Indiana Senate panel advances uniform speed bill
February 16, 2023
An Indiana Senate bill to do away with a speed limit differential on the state’s fastest roadways has taken the first step toward passage.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says roadways are safest when all vehicles are allowed to travel at the same rate of speed. The Association 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 Homeland Security and Transportation Committee voted 7-1 this week to advance a bill 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.
Idea simply makes sense
Sen. Jim Tomes, R-Wadesville, told the 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.
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 trucks equipped with 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 provided information to the committee 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, has moved to the full Senate. If approved there, it would head to the House.
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 did nothing to improve highway safety,” Morris said. LL