Alabama bills die; would have lowered speeds, granted APU exemption

| 6/6/2008

A handful of bills that have died in the Alabama statehouse were intended to make the state’s roadways safer. They included efforts to lower speed limits and make way for emergency vehicles. Another bill was intended to be used as an incentive to reduce truck idling.

One bill was intended to encourage idling reduction. It sought to increase the maximum gross vehicle, axle, tandem or bridge formula weight limits for large trucks equipped with idle reduction technology. It would have authorized affected trucks to weigh up to an additional 400 pounds.

Similar efforts recently were approved in Missouri and Nebraska.

The Alabama bill – HB238 – was awaiting final consideration on the Senate floor when the regular session ended, effectively killing it for the year. The House previously approved it.

Efforts to make roadways safer also failed to make it through the Legislature. The first bill – HB103 – would have slowed vehicles by 5 mph on rural, interstate highways and other roadways throughout the state.

The measure would have dropped the 70 mph speed limit on interstates to 65 mph. Other highways with four or more traffic lanes would have speed limits reduced from 65 mph to 60 mph.

A speed limit committee also would have been created to adjust the speed limit on interstate highways. Rep. Thad McClammy, D-Montgomery, wrote in the bill that adjusting the maximum speed limit would help conserve fuel and make for safer roads.

Officials opposed to slowing vehicles pointed out that interstates were designed to accommodate traffic driving at 70 mph.

The bill advanced from the House Public Safety Committee to the chamber floor only to be “indefinitely postponed.” The status effectively killed it for the year.

Another bill that met its demise called for adding Alabama to the list of at least 30 states with laws designed to protect emergency personnel and certain other vehicles during roadside stops.

The legislation – HB379 – was awaiting final consideration on the Senate floor when the session wrapped up. The House previously approved it.

The bill would have required drivers to maintain a safe distance and reduce speed before passing law enforcement, emergency vehicles, or wreckers parked by the road with their lights flashing.

Dubbed the “Move Over Act,” the measure sought to require drivers to merge into a lane further away from the specified vehicles, if practical. On two-lane highways, drivers would have been required to reduce speed before passing.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Alabama in 2008, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor