Missouri bill would split speeds, restrict hours behind the wheel

| 1/25/2008

If a Missouri state lawmaker gets his way, large trucks would need to slow down on major routes throughout the state. They also would be further limited in how many hours they can spend on roads in the state each day.

House Minority Floor Leader Paul LeVota, D-Independence, has introduced a bill that would require vehicles in excess of 18,000 pounds gross weight to drive 10 mph slower than the posted speed limit for all other vehicles.

Split speeds would be created on roadways around the state. Trucks would be required to travel 60 mph on rural interstates and freeways – down from 70 mph. Where the current posted speed limit is 65 mph or 60 mph, trucks would be slowed to 55 mph and 50 mph, respectively. Trucks entering areas that include downtown Kansas City and St. Louis would be limited to 45 mph – down from 55 mph.

Trucks also would be slowed an additional 10 mph in construction zones.

Josh McCarroll, legislative director for LeVota, told Land Line Magazine the need to approve legislation that would slow trucks is simple. “This is an attempt to increase safety on our roads,” McCarroll wrote in an e-mail.

Opponents say requiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other vehicles does not promote safety on the highways. Differential speeds actually cause more lane changes and passing that can result in crashes, they say.

Another provision in the bill would prohibit truckers and other drivers from being behind the wheel for more than nine consecutive hours within the state.

Currently, state law does not have a separate set of hours-of-service regulations for Missouri intrastate truck drivers. With a few noted exceptions like agricultural operations, intrastate truckers in the Show-Me State are regulated by the federal hours-of-service regulations because state law adopts the federal regulations by reference.

To add insult to injury for truckers, another bill offered for consideration in the state’s House would authorize fuel tax holidays for personal vehicles. Sponsored by Rep. Jerry Nolte, R-Gladstone, the measure would knock a dime off the state’s 17-cent-per-gallon tax for diesel and gas purchases “for personal use.”

Consumers would be charged 7 cents per gallon during the four-day period for the Memorial Day and Labor Day holiday weekends. The first round of tax holidays would start in 2009.

LeVota’s bill – HB1563 – and Nolte’s bill – HB1686 – are awaiting assignment to committee.

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

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor