After waiting years for this day to arrive, as of Wednesday, July 1, truckers in Ohio finally will be allowed to drive at the same speed limit as other vehicles on mostly rural and suburban interstates.
The new law eliminates the slower speed on interstates posted at 65 mph for vehicles with a gross weight of more than 8,000 pounds. Speed limits on U.S. routes, state routes and other multilane divided highways will remain unchanged.
Until now, large vehicles have been required to travel 55 mph – 10 mph below the 65 mph limit for other vehicles. As of Wednesday, all vehicles traveling on affected interstates are cleared to drive 65 mph.
Included in the two-year state transportation budget approved in April, the breakthrough in policy in Ohio was more than just welcome news to truckers. It is a sweet triumph for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and its members.
“It feels great to add Ohio to the list of states that have eliminated split speeds, thanks to a long campaign by OOIDA to inform and reform bad safety policy,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of OOIDA. “The only speed limit policy that makes sense is to have all vehicles traveling at the same speed. It is a welcome change in Ohio that is long overdue.”
Owner-operator and OOIDA member Lewie Pugh of Freeport, OH, said that truckers in the state have touted the safety benefits of all vehicles traveling the same speed for years.
“I think it’s a great thing in the name of safety for everybody. It will help move commerce and help move traffic more freely in the state,” Pugh said. “It’s been a long time coming.”
Scott Varner, the deputy director for communications for the Ohio Department of Transportation said hundreds of speed limit signs are expected to be changed in just one day.
“In many cases, crews will simply implement a ‘white out approach.’ It includes using a reflective white material overlay to cover the old speed limits,” Varner told Land Line.
At other locations where signs designating the 65 mph and 55 mph limits are separated the outdated signs will simply be removed. In cases where new signs are required, ODOT crews have already installed several new speed limit signs behind the originals. On Wednesday, crews are scheduled to return to remove the old speed limit signs.
Varner said the task of updating signage is expected to be complete on Thursday, July 2.
Other Ohio traffic laws that take effect July 1:
The “Move Over” law will be expanded to include tow trucks. If drivers are unable to merge into a lane farther away, they will be required to slow down. Violators would face $300 fines.
Headlights will be required to be flipped on when windshield wipers are in use. Warnings will be handed out to violators for the secondary offense until January 2010.
– By Keith Goble, state legislative editor
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