Truckers obeying new Louisiana restrictions – but cars aren’t

| Monday, September 15, 2003

Louisiana has lowered the speed limit and imposed lane restrictions on trucks on I-10 through the Atchafalaya Basin, and so far, truckdrivers are obeying them, KPLC TV reported Sept. 11.

However, the same cannot be said for cars.

The television station reported that, while no 18-wheelers have been ticketed in the area, in just one two-hour period, state troopers cited 33 motorists for speeding between 77 and 92 miles per hour.

The number of car tickets occurred despite the fact that cars can legally travel faster than trucks under the new restrictions. Trucks are limited to 55 mph and travel in the right lane; cars can travel in the left lane and run up to 60 mph.

Louisiana Gov. Mike Foster, a Republican, recently bypassed the Legislature, ordering the speed limit reduction and lane restrictions for heavy trucks on the highway. The action came after a truckdriver and four others died in an 11-vehicle pile-up accident on I-10 between Butte La Rose and Whiskey Bay.

Earlier this year, the state’s Legislature failed to pass two bills that would have restricted trucks to the right lane.

HB241 would have restricted heavy trucks weighing at least 5,000 pounds from passing any motor vehicle on an elevated thoroughfare or on a street or highway within a municipality. HB1478 would have permitted city governments to adopt ordinances restricting heavy trucks weighing at least 5,000 pounds to the right lane on all city streets, roads and highways.

Both bills were still in the House Transportation Committee when the Legislature adjourned June 23.

The governor’s action has sparked criticism from the trucking community.

“Not everybody believes the governor has the authority to simply change speed limits and implement lane restrictions on a whim, especially since the Legislature rejected that idea earlier this year,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “While the governor may see a benefit in reduced speed limits, it’s ludicrous to simply lower the speed limit for trucks and create a split speed limit. That won’t resolve the problem.”

OOIDA is urging Louisiana truckdrivers to call their legislators and ask those lawmakers to talk some sense into the governor.

“State lawmakers can be held accountable for what their governor does,” Spencer added. “Lawmakers should be bold in speaking out against the governor’s knee-jerk reaction.”

The governor’s lane and speed restrictions were scheduled to take effect in mid-October.

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