Speed limiter update

by Ruth Jones

Montana Legislature Must Set Numeric Limit

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 passenger vehicles. Truck speed limits (65 mph day and night) and nighttime speed limits for cars (65 mph) are not affected by this ruling.

So far, two bills have been introduced to rectify the situation. Sen. Arne Mohl has introduced SB 133 that calls for a limit of 75 mph for cars and light trucks for both day and night. The bill also asks for a daytime speed limit of 70 mph for heavy trucks, and 65 mph during hours of darkness.

Rep. Sam Kitzenberg's HB 22 calls for a daytime speed limit for passenger vehicles of 75 mph, while leaving nighttime speed limits at 65 mph. Kitzenberg's bill would not affect truck speed limits.

If you are a resident of Montana, now is the time to contact your state lawmakers and urge them to implement uniform speed limits for all classes of vehicles. The general information number for the Montana legislature is (406) 444-3064.

Uniform Speeds on Texas Agenda

On Jan.14, Rep. Carl Isett of Lubbock filed a bill to eliminate differential speed limits for cars and trucks in the Lone Star State. Rep. Anna Mowrey told Land Line she will co-sponsor HB 676 and expects a number of other representatives to sign on as well. Land Line readers will recall that Rep. Mowrey sponsored a uniform speed limit bill during the '97 legislative session that was narrowly defeated in the closing hours of the session. At press time, HB 676 had not been scheduled for a hearing. Until then, Texas truckers who support the safety of uniform speed limits should contact their state lawmakers and urge them to support this legislation. The general information number for the Texas legislature is (512) 463-4630.

New Mexico's Vernon Will Try Again

Sen. Skip Vernon is planning another effort to create differential speed limits for trucks. Vernon has publicly stated that he will again introduce legislation to mandate 65 mph for trucks on rural interstates. (Vernon's 1997 bill passed the legislature, but was vetoed by the Governor.) Vernon is again opposed by New Mexico Highway Department engineers who believe that differential speeds are more dangerous. Published reports indicate that the New Mexico Motor Carriers Association will also oppose Vernon's efforts. In addition to promoting split speed limits, Vernon has indicated support for higher speeding fines for trucks and wants to limit trucks to the right lane on multi-lane highways unless they're passing another vehicle.

Freshman Rep. Ron Godbey, who supports Vernon on the issue of lower speeds for trucks, plans to introduce a bill that calls for dramatically higher speeding fines for trucks. Currently the fine for 16 to 20 miles over the speed limit is $104. Godbey proposes to increase the fine to $1,040.

New Mexico truckers should contact their lawmakers to express their views on these important issues. The general information number for the New Mexico legislature is (505) 986-4600.

All is Quiet on the Wisconsin Front

In spite of efforts by Sheriff Lev Baldwin, as yet no bills have been introduced in the legislature to set a 50 mph speed limit for trucks on I-43 in Milwaukee County. Baldwin appealed to lawmakers to reduce truck speeds in reaction to a number of truck crashes in his jurisdiction. LL