Texas lawmakers approve uniform speeds, all day

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 5/23/2011

Truckers welcome news that the days of setting speed limits in Texas by the presence of the sun could soon be a relic of the past. A bill has completed its journey through the Texas statehouse that 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 voted unanimously Monday, May 23, to advance a bill to Gov. Rick Perry 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.

Rep. Gary Elkins, R-Houston, introduced the bill – HB1353 – in the House, where it was approved on a 146-2 vote. Elkins pointed out that Texas is the lone state in the country with slower nighttime speed limits. He said it is time to rid the state of slower speeds because they are outdated.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.

He said another benefit to the change is that the 75 mph limit would help truckers move goods in a more efficient manner across the state.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long advocated for uniform speeds for all vehicles on Texas roadways.

Todd Spencer, OOIDA executive vice president said Texas truckers deserved credit for contacting their state lawmakers and encouraging their support of the bill.

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.”

Owner-operator and OOIDA Life Member Frank Owen of Waco, TX, said the change will help reduce the speed gap between what a lot of traffic travels and those vehicles that strictly follow the posted limit.

“Texas is the worst state I’ve ever seen for speeding. If you go the speed limit, you get run over,” he said. “The change will really help cut down on interactions between cars and trucks. Everyone will be going about the same speed – as it should be.”

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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