Oregon DOT seeks comments regarding truck speed increases

By Tyson Fisher, Land Line staff writer | Monday, March 13, 2017

The Oregon Department of Transportation is considering increasing truck speeds, and input from truckers is needed. ODOT is currently accepting comments for its engineering study on the impacts of increasing truck speeds.

Oregon is one of the states that have a speed differential between trucks and cars. Currently, the speed limit for trucks is set at 55 mph while passenger vehicles can drive up to 65 mph.

In order to change existing speed limits, ODOT must conduct an engineering investigation report to be submitted to the Speed Zone Review Panel. A review by that panel will then be submitted to the Oregon Transportation Commission with a recommendation.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to differential speed limits and recently filed its own comments to ODOT. OOIDA considers differential speed limits to be “counterproductive to safety, limit the ability of truck drivers to fully-control their vehicle, and negatively impact the behavior of other drivers and vehicles,” according to filed comments.

OOIDA points out that speed differentials cause more interactions between cars and trucks as those in passenger vehicles tend to pass trucks dangerously and drive more aggressively. Speed differentials also increase congestion. These factors can lead to an increase in crashes.

In a Policy Resolution, the American Association of State and Highway Transportation Officials stated that speed limits set arbitrarily below reasonable speeds are difficult to enforce, produce noncompliance, encourage disrespect of the law, and create unnecessary antagonism toward law enforcement.

Research conducted by the OOIDA Foundation found “that a higher variance of vehicle speeds in traffic flow increases the risk of an accident, that most states have eliminated differential speed limits, and that there is no substantial evidence to support the use of differential speed limits,” according to OOIDA comments.

“In Oregon, establishing uniform speed limits – presumably through a slight increase in speed limits for commercial trucks – would simply allow commercial trucks to flow with traffic, get to their destination quicker, and decrease the amount of trucks on the road,” OOIDA said. “All of this can be accomplished without compromising safety.”

Written comments can be submitted to InterstateSpeedComments@odot.state.or.us. For more information about the study, go to the ODOT website.

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