Indiana lawmaker wants to end car-truck speed differential

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/30/2013

An Indiana state lawmaker says it’s time to do away with split speed limits on interstate highways.

In 2005, speed limits for large trucks were increased from 60 mph to 65 mph on rural interstates. Other vehicle speeds went up from 65 mph to 70 mph.

Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield, introduced a bill that would rid the state of speed differentials on rural stretches of interstates by authorizing trucks to travel 70 mph.

Washburne says that all vehicles should be traveling at, or as close as possible, to the same rate of speed.

“It drives me nuts when I come up on the rear end of these trucks and they’re going 65 mph and I’m going 70 mph,” Washburne told Land Line. “That differential in speeds doesn’t make a lot of sense to me.”

A fiscal impact statement attached to HB1410 notes that the change could result in fewer speeding citations.

OOIDA and others say eliminating the speed differential would make roads safer by improving traffic flow. It would also more closely reflect the speed at which most people naturally drive, typically the speed at or below which 85 percent of the drivers are traveling.

Washburne said that he has driven in different parts of the country with 70 mph speeds and he doesn’t believe it’s something that truckers traveling Indiana’s rural areas couldn’t handle.

“Indiana doesn’t have the kind of terrain that you would think would cause trucks problems at 70 mph. It just makes a lot of sense to make the change.”

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd 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.

Another bill would raise speed limits on divided, rural highways around the state.  Sponsored by Rep. Tim Harman, R-Bremen, HB1120 would increase car and truck speeds from 60 mph to 65 mph.

The bill’s fiscal impact statement puts the cost to replace 400 affected signs at about $120,000.

Both bills are awaiting consideration in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

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

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