Mississippi one step closer to 75 mph speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/28/2015

Speed limits, left-lane use and rumble strips are among the topics that Mississippi lawmakers are reviewing at the statehouse.

The House Transportation Committee voted to advance a bill that would make Mississippi only the second state east of the Mississippi River to permit speeds higher than 70 mph. Maine permits travelers to drive 75 mph on a portion of Interstate 95.

In 2014, Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, offered an identical bill that advanced from the House panel but failed to come up for consideration on the House floor before a deadline to advance.

This year’s effort would authorize truckers and other drivers to travel 75 mph on rural interstates and four-lane highways – up from 70 mph.

Stringer has said that many travelers in the state are already driving 75 mph. He wants to make sure they’re doing it legally.

HB335 awaits further consideration by the full House.

Another speed bill still in the House Transportation Committee covers large truck traffic during bad weather.

State law requires large trucks and buses to slow down to 45 mph on highways when visibility is reduced because of “inclement weather.”

Sponsored by Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Hinds, HB1265 would remove the requirement that visibility must be bad for affected drivers to slow down during snow, ice or rain storms.

Left-lane use on highways in the state is the topic of a separate bill in the committee.

Mississippi law now requires vehicles driving slower than the normal speed of traffic to drive in the right-hand lane of multilane highways. Vehicles are allowed to merge left to overtake and pass slower moving traffic.

Rep. Mark Formby, R-Pearl River, offered HB140 to apply to all vehicles traveling through Mississippi, regardless of speed. Truckers and other drivers traveling on multilane roadways couldn’t stay in the far left lane. No fine amount is specified in the bill.

Exceptions would be made for vehicles in the left lane to overtake and pass another vehicle.

Supporters say limiting the left lane for passing only would result in improved traffic flow and reducing the number of drivers who impede traffic.

One more bill from Formby in the committee is intended to improve safety on roadways.

HB135 would require the state Department of Transportation to install rumble strips along shoulders of newly constructed or resurfaced highways, roads or streets.

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