Could Idaho soon have uniform speeds?

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/23/2012

An Idaho state lawmaker is ready to do away with the state’s split speed limit.

Idaho law now authorizes motorists to drive 75 mph on interstate highways while trucks are limited to 65 mph.

Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, introduced a bill to rid the state of speed differentials by authorizing trucks to travel 75 mph.

Hammond said there would be improved safety for travelers if both types of vehicles were traveling at the same rate of speed.

“It doesn’t necessarily mean trucks will drive 75. It means we are trying to close the gap on the speeds of trucks and cars,” Hammond told Land Line. “The closer we can come to everyone traveling at the same speed, the safer it is for everyone on the highway.”

Todd Spencer, executive vice president for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, echoed Hammond’s comments.

“Requiring trucks to drive at speeds slower than other vehicles does not promote safety. It does exactly the opposite by requiring vehicles to be constantly in conflict with each other,” Spencer said.

OOIDA and Hammond tout the need to set speeds at the 85th percentile – the speed at or below which 85 percent of the vehicles travel.

“Rather than arbitrarily setting speed limits, most of us will travel at a speed that is appropriate to the road. It is intuitive as we drive,” Hammond said.

The uniform speed bill – S1229 – is in the Senate Transportation Committee.

Spencer encourages truckers in the state to be active in the legislative process.

“Educate those lawmakers and remind them it’s an important issue that needs to be acted on. There simply is no argument that can tout the benefits of having differential speed limits that cause vehicles to be in constant interaction,” Spencer said.

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

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