The Utah Senate has approved a bill that includes provisions
to allow all drivers to travel faster. A separate effort would create split
speeds by slowing trucks only on most highways.
The Senate voted 19-9 to approve a bill that would increase
the speed limits by 5 mph on state highways and interstates for all vehicles.
The effort - SB17 - now heads to the House for further consideration.
Truckers and others traveling on rural interstates and other
limited access routes would be cleared to drive 80 miles per hour - up from the
current 75 mph limit. The speed limit along urban interstates and other roads
would increase from 65 mph to 70 mph.
Before drivers would be cleared to travel at higher rates of
speed the Utah Department of Transportation would do a study to determine if
there are areas where it wouldn't be safe to increase speeds.
Sen. Scott Jenkins, R-Plain City, said that drivers are already
traveling safely at these speeds.
"People travel at a speed they feel is reasonable and
prudent," Jenkins recently told The
That doesn't sound good to Rep. Sheryl Allen, R-Bountiful.
She has introduced a bill that would slow trucks down along
those same stretches of roadway by 10 mph. All other vehicles would be cleared
to continue to travel at the current speed limit.
The bill - HB199 - would lower truck speeds from 75 mph to
65 mph while driving on rural interstates and limited-access highways. The 65
mph limit on urban interstates would remain unchanged for trucks and cars.
Officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers
Association say that requiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other
vehicles does not promote safety on the highways.
"It does exactly the opposite by requiring that vehicles are
constantly in conflict with each other. Lane changes and passing is constantly
required to avoid crashes," OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer told Land Line.
Allen's bill is in the House Rules Committee.
The bill that would keep speed limits uniform includes a
provision that is intended to combat aggressive driving on multi-lane highways
by keeping most motorists out of the far left-hand lane. Large trucks already
are restricted to the right lanes of highways with at least three lanes in the
The proposed change to state law would require vehicles
traveling in the left lane to move right, when practical, when they are about
to be overtaken by another vehicle.
The bill also would require that people traveling on
highways adopt a two-second rule.
Jenkins wrote in the bill that drivers must "follow at a
distance so that at least two seconds elapse before reaching the location of
the vehicle directly in front of the operator's vehicle."
It also would require that drivers preparing to turn right
or left must signal their intentions for at least two seconds. Existing law
requires a three-second heads up for other drivers.
One other provision in the bill is intended to address the
increasing problem of distracted driving. It would create a new category of
tickets for "careless" driving.
Any person found guilty of two or more moving violations or
one moving violation while being distracted by one or more activities not
related to the operation of the vehicle would be considered to be driving
The bill lists five examples of distracting activities while
driving. They include using cell phones, eating, drinking or applying makeup
- By Keith Goble,
state legislative editor