Nine states consider speed limit changes

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 2/8/2013

Truckers are tracking bills from Wyoming to New Hampshire to alter speed limits. OOIDA leadership says it is imperative for road safety that any changes made to driving speeds promote uniformity.

“If lawmakers choose to change speeds it is essential that the change allow all vehicles to travel at the same speed,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. “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.”

An Indiana state lawmaker wants to rid the state of speed differentials on rural stretches of interstates by increasing trucks speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph – the same as smaller vehicles.

Rep. Thomas Washburne, R-Inglefield, 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.”

Another Indiana House bill would raise speed limits for all vehicles on divided, rural highways around the state from 60 mph to 65 mph.

Lawmakers in multiple states are pushing for new and expanded authority to post speeds at 80 mph.

One Oklahoma bill would increase speeds on turnpikes from 75 mph to 80 mph. In nearby Utah, a measure would expand the portion of Interstate 15 where speeds can reach 80 mph. It would also add stretches of Interstates 80 and 84.

Addressing concerns from lawmakers about higher speeds, Utah Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, said that 85 percent of drivers on the affected roads already drive 82 mph.

“The speed would be set at the speed limit that people want to drive,” Dunnigan told lawmakers. “It is the natural flow.”

In neighboring Wyoming the Senate voted to advance a bill to increase the speed limit for all vehicles on limited access roads from 65 mph to 70 mph. An Iowa bill would also increase speeds to 60 mph on highways posted at 55 mph.

Mississippi lawmakers are considering a bill to increase interstate speeds to 75 mph – up from 70 mph. State Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, said that many travelers in the state are already driving 75 mph. He wants to make sure they’re doing it legally.

Speed changes are also under review in multiple states on the East Coast.

Two Connecticut bills would increase posted speeds on multi-lane, limited access highways to 75 mph – up from 65 mph. One bill would increase speeding fines by 15 percent.

Multiple bills in New Hampshire would increase interstates speeds by as much as 10 mph. The first bill would increase speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph on Interstate 93 from mile marker 45 to the Vermont border.

The second bill would apply the change to all interstates posted at 65 mph. It would also increase speeds to 60 mph on interstates posted at 55 mph. One more bill would authorize 75 mph speeds on interstates posted at 65 mph. Interstates posted at 55 mph would be increased to 60 mph.

Maryland lawmakers are looking at multiple efforts to increase vehicle speeds. One bill would increase vehicle speeds from 65 mph to 70 mph on interstates, state expressways and some other highways. Vehicle speeds on the Intercounty Connector would also increase from 55 mph to 70 mph. Another bill would limit the 5 mph boost to Interstate 68.

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