Louisiana bill would impose car-truck speed differential

By Keith Goble, Land Line state legislative editor | 4/13/2017

If a Louisiana state lawmaker gets his way, speed differentials would be implemented on the state’s busiest roadways.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association opposes the proposal. The Association, with more than 158,000 members nationwide, says roadways are safest when all vehicles are permitted to travel at the same rate of speed.

Louisiana law now permits car and truck drivers to travel 75 mph on rural interstate highways. Speeds for all vehicles are set at 70 mph on urban interstates and on other limited access highways.

Rep. Steve Carter, R-Baton Rouge, has introduced a bill to slow large trucks by at least 10 mph on interstate highways. In effect, trucks would be restricted to traveling 65 mph on rural stretches of highway and slowed to 60 mph along urban portions.

Only seven states post slower speeds for trucks statewide. California, Montana, Oregon and Washington are the lone states with differentials of at least 10 mph.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA’s director of state legislative affairs, said most states recognize the safety benefits of uniform speed limits and are moving away from differential speeds.

He has communicated with Carter the Association’s concerns about the bill. Matousek pointed out that the typical member of OOIDA drives more than 100,000 miles each year.

“Truckers are firsthand observers of the negative consequences of misguided traffic laws, including differential speed limits,” he said.

Crash data compiled by Louisiana State University from 2016 shows that vehicles affected by Carter’s bill were involved in 2 percent of all accidents in the state.

Matousek highlighted research from the OOIDA Foundation that concludes a higher variance of vehicle speeds in traffic flow increases the risk of an accident.

“We believe differential speed limits unnecessarily create operational inefficiencies that are bad for the economy, traffic congestion, and productivity.”

He added that by maintaining uniform speeds, commercial trucks would be allowed to flow with traffic, get to their destination quicker, and maintain a high level of highway safety.

Carter’s bill, HB465, is in the House Transportation, Highways and Public Works Committee.

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