Idaho panel works on speed differential

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 11/21/2012

A work group in Idaho met recently to discuss possible changes to the state’s speed limit rules.

OOIDA Board Member Bill Rode of Eagle, ID, was one of about a dozen participants representing state government, law enforcement, and trucking that gathered in Boise to discuss the state’s speed differential on interstates.

Idaho law now authorizes motorists to drive 75 mph on interstates. In 1998, truck speeds were dropped from 75 mph to 65 mph.

During the 2012 regular session, Senate Transportation Chairman Jim Hammond offered a bill to rid the state of speed differentials by authorizing trucks to travel 75 mph. Instead, his panel decided to call on a work group to address the speed issue.

Rode said the work group didn’t reach consensus on recommendations to give lawmakers when they convene in early January. Instead, they were split on whether to recommend keeping the status quo on speeds.

The longtime truck driver said that he was one of the panelists to tout the safety benefits of uniform speeds, which result in fewer interactions between cars and trucks. Others expressed reservations about giving trucks the authority to travel faster.

One point I got to make was to a lawmaker who complained about rocks or gravel from trucks striking his windshield,” Rode said. “I told him, ‘It looks like you have a problem with following too close.’ It shut him right up.”

It will be up to lawmakers to decide the best path to take. However, the group did list three possibilities that they believe warrant additional consideration by state lawmakers. One option would be to eliminate the differential on a specific stretch of interstate.

“On roadways where speeds are uniform you don’t have the problems you see where there’s a differential,” Rode told Land Line.

He referred to a 15-mile stretch of Interstate 84 near Boise with uniform speeds.

“With everybody running 65 mph I can see that uniform is the only way we should be.”

Another option listed in the report would be to reduce the speed limit differential.

“You reduce it by 5 mph, and it’s still a split. You still have someone cutting in front of me. I want a uniform speed,” he said.

The other option would be to get additional information for lawmakers to review down the road.

Idaho lawmakers can address the issue during the session that begins Jan. 7, 2013.

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

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