Indiana bill would end car-truck speed differential

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/12/2015

An Indiana state lawmaker is trying again to get uniform speed limits enacted on interstate highways.

In 2005, speed limits for large trucks in Indiana were increased from 60 mph to 65 mph on rural interstates. Other vehicle speeds went up from 65 mph to 70 mph.

Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield, introduced a bill for the session that begins Tuesday, Jan. 13, that would rid the state of speed differentials on rural stretches of interstates and the Indiana Toll Road by authorizing trucks to travel 70 mph.

Washburne also tried to get the change made during the 2013 regular session, but the bill never came up for consideration in committee. Hopeful that things have changed, he has brought the issue back up for consideration two years later.

He has said that all vehicles should be traveling at, or as close as possible, to the same rate of speed.

A fiscal impact statement attached to the bill notes that the expense to the state to change signage would be about $35,200. In addition, it is estimated the switch could result in fewer speeding citations.

Officials at the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association support the bill. Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said that roadways are safer when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

“Differential speed limits create more interactions between cars and trucks, which can lead to an increase in the number and severity of accidents,” Matousek said. “They are also a contributing factor to increased congestion and carbon emissions, and increase inefficiencies with local, regional, and national goods movement.”

Washburne previously told Land Line that he has driven in different parts of the country with 70 mph speeds, and he believes it’s something that truckers traveling Indiana’s rural areas could handle.

“Indiana doesn’t have the kind of terrain that you would think would cause trucks problems at 70 mph. It just makes a lot of sense to make the change.”

The bill, HB1040, awaits consideration in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

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