Mississippi bills would set speeds at 75 mph, slow trucks to 45 mph in bad weather

January 15, 2018

Keith Goble


(Editor’s note: This article has been updated to reflect the correct sponsor of SB2046. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Robert Jackson.)

Mississippi state lawmakers are back at work at the statehouse, and they are reviewing multiple bills that address speed limits.

One bill from Sen. Robert Jackson, D-Marks, would make Mississippi only the fourth state east of the Mississippi River to permit speeds higher than 70 mph.

Maine permits travelers to drive 75 mph on a portion of Interstate 95. Michigan authorizes motorists to drive 75 mph on certain roadways. Also, Louisiana permits all travelers to drive 75 mph on rural interstates.

Jackson’s bill would authorize truckers and other drivers to travel 75 mph on Mississippi’s rural interstates and four-lane highways.

Advocates say that many travelers in the state are already driving 75 mph. Supporters want to make sure they’re doing it legally.

The bill, SB2046, awaits consideration in the Senate Highways and Transportation and Judiciary Division A committees.

Trucks topped at 45 mph in bad weather
Another speed bill in the House Transportation Committee covers large truck traffic during bad weather.

State law requires large trucks and buses to slow down to 45 mph on highways when visibility is reduced because of “inclement weather.”

Sponsored by Rep. Credell Calhoun, D-Hinds, HB849 would remove the requirement that visibility must be bad for affected drivers to slow down during snow, ice or rain storms.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed to the legislation.

Mike Matousek, OOIDA director of government affairs, has communicated to Rep. Calhoun that the provision is problematic for multiple reasons.

“First, if inclement weather is present, all motor vehicles should decrease speed at a rate of travel that is safe; not just trucks,” Matousek wrote in a letter. “Second, (the provision) is overly vague and subject to interpretation by the law enforcement community.”

He added that HB849 creates more uncertainty for truckers operating in the state by requiring them to reduce speed to 45 mph during inclement weather, not just when visibility is bad.

“It also imposes a speed differential during conditions that might reduce the ability for a car to see a slower-moving truck, thus increasing the potential for accidents and further justifying the need for uniform speed limit laws.”

Headlights on with wipers
One more legislative effort pursued by multiple lawmakers is intended to make traveling Mississippi roads safer.

HB292, HB724 and SB2012 would require drivers to flip on their headlights whenever the windshield wipers are in use, and during the time period between sunset and sunrise.

The House bills specify that parking lights or auxiliary driving lamps are not sufficient alternatives to headlights whenever wipers are in use. Violators would face $25 fines.

The bills are in their chamber’s respective transportation committee.

To view other legislative activities of interest for Mississippi, click here.

Keith Goble

Keith Goble has been covering trucking-related laws since 2000. His daily web reports, radio news and “OOIDA’s State Watch” in Land Line Magazine are the industry’s premier sources for information regarding state legislative affairs.