Idaho truck speeds to be studied

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Wednesday, February 15, 2012

A push at the Idaho statehouse to do away with split speed limits on interstate highways has been sidelined. The issue will instead be studied.

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

Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Hammond offered a bill to rid the state of speed differentials by authorizing trucks to travel 75 mph. However, his panel decided on Tuesday, Feb. 14, to pursue a work group to address the speed issue.

Sen. Chuck Winder, R-Boise, called for the committee to request the Idaho Transportation Department, truck drivers and AAA to work together and report to the committee for the 2013 session whether any changes to the speed limit are necessary.

“Hopefully, they will come back with a reasonable proposal to improve safety and not go to the 75 mph speed limit for large trucks,” Winder said at the meeting.

Hammond, R-Coeur d’Alene, told Land Line that one option that is likely to draw a lot of discussion is whether to shorten the speed gap by allowing trucks to go 70 mph.

Sen. Elliot Werk, D-Boise, said all options need to be on the table.

“We are not directing them to come back with a proposal. If they come back to us and say the current situation is the best, we need to be open to that,” Werk told lawmakers.

The effort to authorize uniform speeds was sidetracked earlier this month. Citing concern about whether any changes were necessary, the committee voted 5-4 on Feb. 2 to hold the bill, S1229, which Hammond said would improve safety for travelers.

“The primary issue that brought this forth was safety,” Hammond said at the hearing. “I do believe it is appropriate.”

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

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