OTA Resists Speed Increase

Commercial truck drivers belonging to the Ohio Trucking Association have stated that raising the speed limit to 70 mph from 65 mph on Interstate 75 will raise safety issues and end up costing the industry more than it’s worth. This is despite the fact that accidents on the busy highway dropped from over 1,000 incidents to around 875 in 2010. But the President of the OTA Larry Davis says it’s not just a safety issue. “It’s also an economic issue for us,” says Davis. “We think the best speed is 65.”

Accidents on Interstate 75 in Butler and Warren counties dropped from 1,052 in 2009 to 880 in 2010, but an official with the Ohio Trucking Association said changing the speed limit brings risks.

It’s a safety issue for us; it’s an economic issue for us, said Larry Davis, president of the OTA for the past 12 years. We think the best speed is 65. It’s a lot more economical. You get half a mile less per gallon roughly from 65 to 70. And when you’re talking 300 gallons every time you fill your truck, it amounts to a good piece of money. Other industry experts echo his sentiments, based on the fact that the average semi tractor gets only around 7 mpg under the best sort of conditions.

Davis says OTA’s main concern is having all vehicles going the same speed on the interstates.

We supported the speed change (from 55 mph) to 65 (in 2009) because it made everybody run the same limit, Davis said. We feel that all the vehicles ought to go the same speed, whatever that speed is, so you aren’t having them cut in and out like you do when you have differential speed limits.

Yet many backers of the proposal argue that it won’t change much on I-75, where more than 96,000 motorists travel on a daily basis through Butler and Warren counties.

Rep. Ron Maag, R-Salem Twp., recently introduced state legislation to make the change and he is baffled by the outpouring of attention it’s gotten from transportation industry leaders across the country and even in Canada.

Ron Maag Ohio GOP
Ohio State Representative Ron Maag

Our roads were designed for that speed 40 years ago, Maag said. We’ve gotten better in our cars and equipment and tires and brakes, and to me it just makes sense.

When asked on the street, many truckers say they aren’t opposed to the increase, but getting on and off exit ramps is a concern.

If a car is going 70, we have a difficult time getting onto the interstate and making lane changes, said trucker Ron Sheldon of Grand Rapids, Mich.

Davis says OTA’s main concern is having all vehicles going the same speed on the interstates.

We supported the speed change (from 55 mph) to 65 (in 2009) because it made everybody run the same limit, Davis said. We feel that all the vehicles ought to go the same speed, whatever that speed is, so you aren’t having them cut in and out like you do when you have differential speed limits.

One of the developments that are working most in favor of OTA’s opposition movement is that the Ohio Department of Transportation and the Ohio State Highway Patrol haven’t endorsed the increase to 70 mph.

More news on this issue as it develops.

 

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