Sheriff to Interstate Drivers: Slow Down

Ohio County Sheriff Pat Butler’s patience has run out with motorists who can’t seem to ease off the gas pedal while traveling on Interstate 70 near The Highlands, many of whom he said exceed the speed limit by 20 mph or more.

More than a year after West Virginia Division of Highways officials lowered the maximum speed from 70 mph to 65 mph on I-70 near the retail development, Butler continues to be disgusted at the number of drivers who ignore the posted speed limit signs. Between Wednesday and Saturday alone, Ohio County deputies issued nine speeding citations to drivers on I-70 between Elm Grove and about a mile east of the Dallas Pike exit.

Five of those vehicles, Butler said, were traveling 85 mph or faster, with one driver topping out at 90 mph. Driving at such excessive speeds demonstrates “a blatant disregard for public safety and their own safety, for that matter,” he said.

“They just figure they’re above the law … and it’s not going to be that way,” said Butler.

According to Butler, motorists can expect to see a stronger enforcement presence on the interstate as the department’s deputy who is assigned full-time to the Mountaineer Highway Interdiction Team will be patrolling more in that area.

Even with the reduction from 70 to 65 mph, Butler believes the speed limit remains too high and should be 55 mph. The once-rural stretch of highway has seen a huge increase in traffic in recent years due to growth at The Highlands, and he said many people have told him they avoid it altogether because they fear for their safety.

“They won’t visit The Highlands because of that,” Butler said.

According to Butler, the Division of Highways plans to conduct a traffic study to investigate the possibility of a reduction to 60 mph, though he didn’t know when that would take place.