Ohio Senate approves uniform speed limits

| 3/19/2009

Could truckers using Ohio interstates soon travel at the same speed as other vehicles? If Ohio Senate Republicans get their way, split speed limits would become a thing of the past.

The Senate approved the $7.6 billion state transportation budget Wednesday, March 18, after inserting a provision sought by GOP lawmakers, which would eliminate the provision in Ohio law that set up a slower speed for vehicles with a gross weight of more than 8,000 pounds.

House lawmakers already approved its version of the budget, which now is expected to go to conference committee made up of select members of both chambers to work out their differences.

Currently, large vehicles are required to travel 55 mph – 10 mph below the 65 mph limit for other vehicles. All vehicles could drive 65 mph.

Ohio is one of four states that limit trucks to 55 mph.

Advocates for uniform speeds in the state say that studies show highways are safer when all drivers travel at the same general rate of speed.

That sentiment was echoed by officials with the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

“We’re pleased with the action of lawmakers,” Todd Spencer, executive vice-president for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Land Line. “Clearly, the speed policy needs to have all vehicles traveling at the same speed. That’s going to produce the safest highways.”

Opponents, including the Ohio State Police, say that faster trucks lead to more problems.

However, research collected by OOIDA concludes that the difference in vehicle speeds, not excessive speed, contributes to accidents. Collisions occur when trucks and cars must change lanes and pass more frequently.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Ohio in 2009, click here.

– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor

Editor’s Note: Please share your thoughts with us about the legislation included in this story. Comments may be sent to statelegislativedesk@ooida.com.