Truck speeds under review at Idaho statehouse

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/3/2012

A push to do away with split speed limits on Idaho’s interstate highways has hit a snag, but the effort to improve safety remains alive.

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

The Senate Transportation Committee voted 5-4 on Thursday, Feb. 2, to hold the bill that would rid the state of speed differentials by authorizing trucks to travel 75 mph.

Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Hammond, the bill sponsor, said during discussion that enacting the change would improve safety for travelers.

“The primary issue that brought this forth was safety,” Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, told lawmakers. “I do believe it is appropriate.”

The majority of committee members were not convinced the change is necessary.

“I think there may be a few people who would benefit from this change but I think the vast majority would not benefit from the change,” Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Meridian, said.

“I don’t know what the heck to do,” said Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise.

Hammond told lawmakers the change doesn’t necessarily mean truckers will drive 75 mph. He cited information that many trucks are speed limited.

“The closer we can come to everyone traveling at the same speed the safer it is for everyone on the highway,” Hammond said.

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

“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.

One day after the committee vote that nearly derailed the effort, Hammond said he is not done fighting to make Idaho’s highways safer.

The committee is expected to once again consider the bill Thursday, Feb. 9.

Hammond said it appears the bill’s only chance at advancing is tied to the promise it will be amended once it reaches the Senate floor.

“An amendment would shorten the gap by allowing trucks to go 70 mph,” Hammond told Land Line.

To help ensure the bill’s advancement OOIDA leadership welcomes the change.

“This change would more closely align permissible truck speed limits with those of vehicles that are currently at 75 mph,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said.

OOIDA encourages truckers to contact Senate Transportation Committee members about the bill – S1229.  The Association will issue a Call to Action for Idaho truckers.

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

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