Indiana bill would end car-truck speed differential

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 1/17/2017

A renewed effort at the Indiana statehouse would do away with speed differentials on interstate highways.

Since 2005, speed limits for large trucks in Indiana are 65 mph on rural interstates. Other vehicle speeds on the same roadways are set at 70 mph.

Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron, introduced a bill for the 2017 regular session to do away with the speed gap on rural stretches of interstates and the Indiana Toll Road by authorizing trucks to travel 70 mph.

This year’s effort marks the third time since 2013 legislation to adopt uniform speeds has been introduced at the statehouse. The two previous efforts failed to advance from committee.

Hopeful that this year will be different, Aylesworth is pursuing the change that would affect about 60,000 vehicles registered in the state and thousands more that access Indiana interstates on a daily basis.

If approved, the Indiana Department of Transportation reports that 245 speed limit signs with the 65 mph restriction would need to be changed.

A fiscal impact statement attached to the bill notes that the expense to the state to change signage would be about $39,200. In addition, it is estimated the switch could result in fewer speeding citations.

The Indiana Motor Truck Association opposes permitting trucks in the state to drive faster than 65 mph.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association supports efforts to do away with speed limit differentials. Indiana is one of only seven states that have the policy in place.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, has said that roadways are safer when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed. He adds that differential speed limits create more interactions between cars and trucks, which can lead to an increase in the number and severity of accidents.

“They are also a contributing factor to increased congestion, carbon emissions, and increase inefficiencies with local, regional, and national goods movement,” Matousek said.

In 2015, there were 105 fatal crashes in Indiana involving large trucks – vehicles weighing more than 10,000 pounds. A report from the U.S. Department of Transportation shows the total was the ninth most in the nation.

The bill to eliminate the speed differential, HB1016, awaits consideration in the House Roads and Transportation Committee.

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