State Update
States mull the need for speed

By Keith Goble
state legislative editor


Now that it’s summer, the majority of state legislatures have wrapped up their regular work for the year. The perennial issue of whether to modify the rate of speed allowed for vehicles once again drew debate in several states. Here is a roundup of what lawmakers considered around the country.

In New Jersey, a pair of bills still active would put stricter limits on how fast trucks could travel on certain roads. The first measure would eliminate uniform speed limits on rural highways. Trucks weighing more than 10,000 pounds – and trucks hauling hazardous materials, regardless of weight – would be slowed by 10 mph, to 55 mph. All other vehicles would be allowed to continue to travel at the current 65 mph limit.

Another New Jersey bill would prohibit commercial trucks from being driven in the state unless they are equipped with devices known as “governors” – or speed limiters, as they are commonly referred to in trucking. Trucks operating in the state would be required to have speed limiters set at 68 mph.

A failed effort in Alabama that was intended to help conserve fuel and make for safer roads sought to slow all vehicles by 5 mph on rural, interstate highways and certain other roadways. It called for dropping the 70 mph speed limit on interstates to 65 mph. Other highways with four or more traffic lanes would have had speed limits reduced from 65 mph to 60 mph.

A speed limit committee also would have been created to adjust the speed limit on interstate highways.

A bill in Missouri called for lower speed limits – for large trucks only. It did not survive the session. It would have required trucks to drive 10 mph slower than the posted speed limit for all other vehicles on various roadways. Trucks also would have been slowed an additional 10 mph in construction zones.

Trucks also would have been restricted under a Louisiana bill. It would have slowed trucks to 60 mph on interstates and other limited-access highways – down from 70 mph. Trucks on other specified roads would have been slowed to 55 mph – down from 65 mph. It included a provision to ban large trucks from driving in the left lanes on interstates. Tractor-trailers with at least 18 wheels would have been limited to the right lane.

Two bills in Illinois attempted to minimize and eliminate the speed gap between trucks and other vehicles on rural, interstate highways. Illinois law requires large vehicles to travel 10 mph below the 65 mph speed limit for other vehicles. One bill would have allowed trucks to travel 60 mph on rural interstates. Another bill would have raised the speed limit to 65 mph on highways outside Chicago and surrounding counties.

A new law in Utah could result in all vehicles driving a little faster along a stretch of Interstate 15. Vehicles traveling along Interstate 15 from Nephi to Cedar City are allowed to drive 75 mph. The new rule gives the Utah DOT authority to determine whether the speed limit can be safely increased to 80 mph or higher between mileposts 222 and 64.

In Wyoming, a bill that died would have set the speed limit for large trucks at 65 mph on the state’s interstates. All other vehicles would have been permitted to continue to travel at the current 75 mph limit.

A bill that died in Arizona sought to slow large trucks by 5 mph along interstates currently posted with 65 mph speed limits. The measure would have required vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds declared gross weight to drive 60 mph.

Arizona law now allows all traffic to drive 65 mph on interstate highways outside urban areas with populations of at least 50,000. The state DOT also can set speeds on rural portions of interstates at 75 mph. LL