From Ohio History Central
On June 5, 1941, the Ohio government approved the state’s first uniform traffic code. This legislation established a standard speed limit of fifty miles per hour outside of all municipalities. Within urban areas, city governments, with the approval of the Ohio Department of Highways, established speed limits. The Ohio Highway Patrol was to enforce the speed limit across the state except within municipalities.
This legislation was the first state-mandated speed limit in Ohio. Very quickly, the federal government reduced Ohio’s speed limit from fifty miles per hour to thirty-five miles per hour. The reason for this reduction was not out of fear for drivers’ safety, but because World War II began in December 1941 and lasted until 1945. During this conflict, the federal government placed restrictions on many items, including gasoline usage. Lesser speeds conserved fuel, prompting the federal government to temporarily reduce Ohio’s state-mandated speed limit.