Mississippi lawmakers move forward with bills on speed limits and left lane use

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Monday, February 03, 2014

Time is running out on two more bills in Mississippi that address truck speeds in certain situations and rumble strips.

The House Transportation Committee voted Thursday, Jan. 30, to advance a bill to make Mississippi only the second state east of the Mississippi River to permit speeds higher than 70 mph. Maine permits travelers to drive 75 mph on a portion of Interstate 95.

Sponsored by Rep. Johnny Stringer, D-Montrose, HB1009 would authorize truckers and other drivers to travel 75 mph on rural interstates and four-lane highways – up from 70 mph.

Stringer has said that many travelers in the state are already driving 75 mph. He wants to make sure they’re doing it legally.

Another speed bill covers large truck traffic during bad weather.

State law requires large trucks and buses to slow down to 45 mph on highways when visibility is reduced because of “inclement weather.”

Sponsored by Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Hinds, HB999 would remove the requirement that visibility must be bad for affected drivers to slow down during snow, ice or rain storms.

The bill is in the House Transportation Committee.

A separate bill to advance from the committee would limit left-lane use on highways in the state.

Mississippi law now requires vehicles driving slower than the normal speed of traffic to drive in the right-hand lane of multilane highways. Vehicles are allowed to merge left to overtake and pass slower moving traffic.

Rep. Mark Formby, R-Pearl River, introduced HB268 to apply to all vehicles traveling through Mississippi, regardless of speed. Truckers and other drivers traveling on multilane roadways couldn’t stay in the far left lane. No fine amount is specified in the bill.

Exceptions would be made for vehicles in the left lane to overtake and pass another vehicle.

Supporters say limiting the left lane for passing only would result in improved traffic flow and reducing the number of drivers who impede traffic.

One more bill from Formby in the committee is intended to improve safety on roadways.

HB13 would require the state Department of Transportation to install rumble strips along shoulders of newly constructed or resurfaced highways, roads or streets.

Mississippi’s deadline for bills to advance from committee is Tuesday, Feb. 4.

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