New Hampshire bills seek changes to speed limits and lane use

| 1/25/2008

A variety of measures of interest to truck drivers have been added to the legislative agenda this year in New Hampshire. The legislation includes changes to speed limits and lane use, and maintenance at rest stops.

One bill would increase speed limits on interstates and divided highways in the state from 65 mph to 70 mph. The 5-mph boost also would apply to the Everett, Spaulding and Blue Star turnpikes where there are at least two lanes of traffic in each direction.

If approved, the state would have higher speed limits than anywhere else in New England. Fines for speeding in the state would remain unchanged.

Opponents say higher speed limits would make travel less safe. They also cite concerns about increased pollution.

Supporters say changing the speed limit would increase safety on the state’s highways. They cite the “natural tendency” of many people to drive 72 mph. Increasing the posted limit in the state would bring the rule there in line with what people already drive, they say.

Sponsored by Rep. David Smith, D-Nashua, the bill includes another provision that specifies the fine for violating the state’s rule for keeping to the right on multilane roadways except to pass.

Violating the rule would result in a warning. Subsequent offenses would carry $50 fines.

The bill – HB1524 – is in the House Transportation Committee.

A separate effort in the transportation panel – HB1235 – would add emergency road service vehicles to the list of personnel that state law requires motorists and truckers to maintain a safe distance from, upon approach. The rule is designed to protect police and other emergency personnel during roadside stops.

Another bill addresses upkeep at highway rest areas and welcome centers. Responsibility for the construction, operation and maintenance of facilities would be transferred from the New Hampshire Department of Transportation to the state’s Department of Resources and Economic Development.

The measure – HB1377 – is in the House Public Works and Highways Committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor