Excessive speed has become a common habit along Interstate 81 in Virginia. The majority of drivers are driving at a speed above the limit, but most of them remain close enough to it to not receive a ticket.
One might think that with gas prices being as high as they are, drivers would slow down in an effort to conserve fuel, but that is not the case. However, despite gas being 93 cents higher in the Roanoke Valley than it was a year ago, the average speed of traffic is the same as it was a year ago between Christiansburg and Buchanan. According to northbound pavement sensors maintained by the Virginia Department of Transportation, the average rate is slightly more than 65 miles-per-hour.
However, drivers who exceed the speed limit by 10 mph or higher make up approximately 15 percent of the stretch of I-81 in the western part of Virginia known for its hills and valleys.
According to an analysis of data from pavement sensors by the Roanoke Times, 2008 has shown a slight drop in speeding in comparison to 2007. In an early August week, 14.7 percent of drivers were driving 10 mph over the limit or higher, in comparison to 15.3 percent during a comparable period in 2007.
According to Virginia State Police Sgt. Rob Carpentieri, the data reflects well on the enforcement efforts of the police, particularly because a certain amount of the speeding vehicles were likely to have been emergency vehicles.