Two bills seeking to raise the speed limit for commercial trucks have been filed in the Indiana Legislature despite pushback from the state’s trucking association.
The pair of bills are the sixth and seventh proposals to eliminate lower speed limits for trucks since 2017. No prior proposals have ever received a hearing in committee. The bill would raise the truck speed limit from 65 to 70 mph.
Rep. Mike Aylesworth, R-Hebron has many of these proposals, and hopes that the most recent proposals will at least be discussed in the House roads and transportation committee, where it has been assigned.
“Those of us that live a considerable distance from the state capitol travel interstates, and it’s always bothered me that Indiana has a bifurcated speed limit,” Aylesworth told the Indiana Capital Chronicle. “The trucks can be very annoying, going slower than regular traffic. I think for safety sake, they all ought to be uniform.”
Apart from being annoying, Aylesworth says that the lowered speed limits are potentially dangerous, and create more traffic than is necessary.
“I was coming back from a trip to South Carolina, and as we came back through the Carolinas and Tennessee and Kentucky — where the speed limits are all the same — we didn’t have many blockages of semis,” he said. “We came to Southern Indiana, and all of a sudden, you’ve got semi issues, for stretches, and it’s very aggravating.”
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is in agreement with Aylesworth, and has historically opposed lower speed limits for commercial trucks “because it decreases safety by increasing the interaction between large trucks and passenger vehicles.”
Ayelsworth says that conversations with insurance experts, INDOT and the Indiana State Police reveal that “everybody’s cool with it,” except the Indiana Motor Truck Association. He says that their opposition has stood in the way of the proposals from even making it to the committee schedule for years.
“There isn’t going to be a significant change in accidents or increased danger to the public,” Aylesworth said. “It’s just very frustrating. With the (IMTA) … we have a disagreement on this one.”
“There are different opinions within the industry, yet the majority of our members continue to support the 65 MPH speed limit,” said IMTA President and CEO Gary Langston. “As trucks with technological advanced safety features become more prevalent, an increased speed limit may be more acceptable.”
An additional, similar bill has been authored by Republican Sen. Jim Tomes, of Wadesville, which would also raise the truck speed limit to 70 mph. Tomes is a ranking member of the Senate committee where the bill has been assigned, making it slightly more possible that his proposal could be up for debate.
“I would welcome that bill to come over, but I can tell you where it’s going to go,” Aylesworth said. “Knowing the way the legislature works, if that bill got assigned to my committee, as an agricultural bill, then we’ll get to hear it. But it isn’t going to happen that way.”