Indiana bills revise rules on engine brakes, certain truck weights, U.S. 31 speeds

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | Thursday, January 29, 2015

Multiple bills at the Indiana statehouse cover issues of interest to truck drivers, including engine brakes, truck weights and speed limits on portions of U.S. 31.

One bill would set fines for the use of modified compression release engine brakes.

State law already prohibits the use of engine brakes on the Indiana Toll Road in Porter County, except for emergencies.

Sen. Brandt Hershman, R-Buck Creek, has introduced a bill that would add another limitation on use of the brakes. Specifically, SB437 would authorize $500 fines for vehicles equipped with the affected brakes unless the vehicle includes a muffler in good working condition to prevent excessive noise.

Fine revenue would be routed to the state general fund.

The bill is in the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation Committee.

House lawmakers approved a separate bill that would lengthen the list of vehicles or combination of vehicles that are exempt from a requirement to move an excess load until a penalty is paid. Failure to pay includes a $500 fine.

Indiana law now exempts certain farm loads.

HB1017 would add loads of logs, wood chips, bark and sawdust to the list as long as the weight of the vehicle does not exceed either the gross weight limit or the axle weight limit by more than 10 percent.

The bill awaits assignment to committee in the Senate.

Another House bill would boost the speed limit on portions of U.S. 31 in northern Indiana.

Sponsored by Rep. Tim Harman, R-Bremen, the bill would increase the 65 mph speed limit to 70 mph on U.S. 31 from the intersection of U.S. 31 and U.S. 35 in Howard County to the intersection of U.S. 31 and state Road 26 in Howard County.

The speed change would also be made from mile marker 229 in Marshall County to mile marker 244 in St. Joseph County.

In addition, the posted speed would be increased from 60 mph to 65 mph on U.S. 31 from the intersection of U.S. 31 and Interstate 465 in Hamilton County to the Michigan line. An exception would continue to be made for an urban district along the route posted at 30 mph.

Changes to 117 speed limit signs on the affected stretches of U.S. 31 would cost the state $18,720 to replace with updated speeds, according to a fiscal impact statement.

Advocates say the new speeds could reduce the number of speeding tickets issued in the state.

HB1224 is in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

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