The Indiana Senate has overwhelmingly approved a bill to do away with the speed limit differential on the state’s fastest roadways.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is calling on truck drivers to make their voices heard by their state representatives.
The Association says roadways are safest when all vehicles are allowed to travel at the same rate of speed. OOIDA does not advocate for a specific speed limit.
Indiana law now allows cars to drive 70 mph while vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds are limited to 65 mph.
The Senate voted 42-5 this week to advance a bill sponsored by Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, to eliminate the speed gap on rural stretches of interstate and on the Indiana Toll Road.
The change would affect an estimated 124,000 vehicles registered in the state and thousands more that access Indiana interstates on a daily basis, a fiscal impact statement attached to the bill reads.
OOIDA Call to Action
OOIDA President Todd Spencer says action is needed by truck drivers to counter what legislators hear from the Indiana Motor Truck Association on the issue.
“While IMTA has every right to express an opinion, I suspect their opinion comes from the views of fleet owners and not the drivers behind the wheel,” Spencer said. “Lawmakers will listen to those who contact them. If drivers want to see an end to split limits now is the time to make the phone calls. Now! Make the call every day till this issue is resolved one way or another.”
Indiana residents can get contact information for their state lawmakers at the link.
An idea that simply makes sense
Tomes told recently told the Senate Homeland Security and Transportation committee it simply makes sense to adopt uniform speeds for all vehicles.
“The logic behind it is if everyone is flowing at the same speed, traffic moves better and you don’t have people stacking up on each other getting behind a slower-moving vehicle,” Tomes said. “I’m thinking this makes sense to let these trucks run even speed with cars and pickup trucks.”
He added that fleet truck operations could still govern top speeds on their vehicles.
Indiana Motor Truck Association voices concern
The Indiana Motor Truck Association opposes the rule change.
Robert Haag, IMTA chairman, told the committee it is important to resist the urge to drive faster. He highlighted the state’s need for additional capacity and reduced congestion.
Haag added that trucking operations would not adjust equipped speed limiters.
“An increase in Indiana’s speed limit for heavy vehicles will not change their decision to limit speed based on their fleet’s individual characteristics,” Haag said.
Additionally, he said the bill’s passage would invite aggressive driving with motorists driving even faster to get around large trucks traveling 70 mph.
“Oftentimes, cars do not like to travel around trucks. The idea is that you want to get away from a truck – you want to pass the truck … It is leading to a race to a higher speed.”
Tomes countered IMTA’s claim about safety concerns by highlighting the group’s interest in heavier trucks.
“I think that is a safety factor there,” Tomes said. “But this 5 mph, I don’t think it would be noticeable at all.”
Andrea Zimmerman of the Indiana Department of Transportation has provided information to legislators about a joint research study by the agency and Purdue University on speed limits. The study suggested uniform 70 mph speeds would reduce crash frequencies in the state by about 20%.
The bill, SB13, now moves to the House, where the issue has struggled to gain support in recent years.
OOIDA backs change
Doug Morris, OOIDA director of safety and security operations, says that speed differentials are based on a flawed belief that slower trucks equal safer trucks. He adds that is simply not the case.
“It’s encouraging to see the legislative pursuit in Indiana to correct a law that was flawed in nature and does nothing to improve highway safety,” Morris said.
While the Senate appears to be more educated on the issue than their House counterparts, Morris said “old politics” are likely to derail the effort once again. He cites leadership that is opposed to the idea instead of learning about the issue. LL