Texas nears passage of uniform speeds all day

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/16/2011

The days of Texas speed limits being determined by the position of the sun in the sky are one step closer to being a thing of the past. A bill that is one vote away from advancing to the governor’s desk would allow truckers and other drivers to travel at the same speed, night and day.

Texas law now authorizes drivers to travel 70 mph during the day along most rural highways. The speed limit drops to 65 mph at night. Trucks are slowed to 60 mph on farm-to-market roads.

Sections of Interstate 10 and Interstate 20 in west Texas are posted at 80 mph during the day for motorists while trucks are limited to 70 mph. Speeds for all vehicles are lowered to 65 mph at night.

The Senate Transportation Committee voted Friday, May 13, to advance a bill to the Senate floor that would increase the speed limit on most rural highways to 75 mph day and night – as long as state studies deem it safe. In addition, any speed differential between cars and trucks would be eliminated.

The 80 mph speed limit in West Texas would also apply to all vehicles 24 hours a day.

If approved by the full Senate, HB1353 would advance to Gov. Rick Perry’s desk. The House already approved it on a 146-2 vote.

Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, pointed out that Texas is the lone state in the country with slower nighttime speed limits. He said it is time to make a change because the slower speeds are outdated.

“This is a leftover from the past. Every other state has abolished slower nighttime speed limits. It’s obviously not a safety concern,” Elkins recently told Land Line.

Another benefit to the change noted by Elkins is that the 75 mph limit would help truckers move goods in a more efficient manner across the state.

Todd Spencer, executive vice president for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said the only speed limit policy that makes sense is to have all vehicles traveling at the same speed.

“In every instance that lawmakers look at the issue of speeds the only policy that makes sense is having all vehicles travel at or close to the same speed,” Spencer said.

In addition to benefiting truckers, Elkins said the change will reflect what most vehicles are already driving.

“My experience is that people are already driving 75,” he said. “We are going to put in statute what people are doing.”

To view other legislative activities of interest for Texas, click here.

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

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