by Andrew Crisp
In February, the Idaho Legislature took up a bill which would have allowed Idaho truckers to lay on a little more speed. A bill sponsored by Coeur d'Alene Sen. James Hammond would have brought the speed limit for commercial trucks up to 75 miles per hour, the same speed for passenger vehicles.
However the law was parked last winter over debate about its effects on traffic and the trucking industry. Critics cited increased fuel costs should truckers increase their speeds and questioned data which suggested a more uniform speed increased safety on highways.
"As we got into that issue in the Senate transportation committee, we seemed to have more questions than answers," Hammond said this morning.
Today six legislators and eight interested parties meet in Capitol caucus chambers to discuss the difference in speed limit. Idaho and other states require truckers to travel at a slower rate than other traffic, but proponents of removing that differential say it may result in safer highways.
"Safety only comes from the man sitting in the seat, behind the wheel," said Bill Rode of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
He said drivers are better able to gauge appropriate speeds for safety on the roads, not a state speed limit.
The committee plans to hear presentations from a number of studies on the subject, including one from University of Idaho Civil Engineering professor Michael Dixon.
The group plans to discuss conclusions and recommendations for the future of the issue by 2 p.m. this afternoon.