by Ruth Jones
"Reasonable and Prudent" out in Montana
The Montana Supreme Court shot down the state's "reasonable and prudent" daytime speed limit, saying the law was unconstitutionally vague. In a decision handed down Dec. 23, the high court said drivers must be given fair notice what speed is fast enough to be a violation. The decision leaves the state with no enforceable daytime speed limit for cars and light trucks. Truck speed limits and nighttime speed limits are not affected by this ruling.
According to published reports, state officials will move quickly to get a new speed limit law on the books. If you are a resident of Montana, now is the time to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to implement uniform daytime speed limits for all vehicles.
Wisconsin sheriff wants 50 mph truck limits
Lev Baldwin, Sheriff of Milwaukee County, WI, (includes the metropolitian Milwaukee area), has appealed to two members of the state's legislature to set a 50 mph speed limit for trucks on Milwaukee county freeways. The state's Department of Transportation has reportedly gone on record as opposed to lower speed limits for trucks, though any decision on the issue will be up to the legislature.
Reacting to a recent fatal crash and other non-fatality crashes involving trucks on I-43, Baldwin is also asking for lane restrictions for trucks. Baldwin addressed his appeal to Sen. Margaret Farrow (a member of the Wisconsin Senate transportation committee) and Rep. Marc Duff.
Sen. Farrow told Land Line she has instructed her staff to talk to the state police (who do not patrol Milwaukee County freeways) and others in the safety community to ask for their input on the split speed limit issue. "I am concerned," said Farrow, "that if we drop the trucks to 50 mph, and everyone else is going 55 or 65 mph, cars will be darting out to get around the slower moving trucks and this will cause problems. I am still making up my mind on this issue. I do think that one of the things we can do now is enforce existing speed limits diligently."
Farrow also told Land Line that she thought lane restrictions could work, but would investigate that issue further as well.
Truckers who wish to contact their elected officials to express their opinions about split speed limits may do so by writing to: (Senators) PO Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707, and (Representatives) PO Box 8952, Madison, WI, 53708. The legislature reconvenes Jan. 4, 1999.
Kentucky residents raise issue of split speed limits
Rumblings about split speed limits are being heard in the Bluegrass State. Recent articles and letters to the editor in Louisville's Courier Journal indicate that the issue may be heating up. Whether this is a brief flare-up of anti-truck sentiment or the beginning of a serious effort to lower truck speed limits is not certain.
Though the Kentucky Transportation Cabinet has the authority to raise and lower speed limits on interstate highways (within federal guidelines), according to a spokesman at that office, lower speed limits for trucks are not being considered at this time. Just in case, truckers may wish to write to the Transportation Cabinet Secretary James Codell (State Office Building, Room 1026, 501 High Street, Frankfort, KY 40622) and express their opinions about the safety of uniform speed limits.
Don't look for the legislature to get involved in the immediate future - the next session is not scheduled until January, 2000. LL