Truckers Raise Safety Concerns for Speed Limits
Not all truck drivers have a need for speed. Many recognize the road hazards and economic disadvantages to excessive speeding. That is why many are opposed to increasing the speed limit along interstate highways in Ohio.
Recent proposed legislation would raise the current speed limit of 65 mph to 70 mph. This raises safety concerns for trucking companies and those who work in truck driving jobs. While accidents decreased to less than 900 in 2010 along Interstate 75, many trucking professionals – in conjunction with the Ohio Trucking Association – are concerned that increased speed could increase accidents.
According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, fatal accidents have decreased steadily during the last decade. This has proponents of the speed increase vocal about the needed change for Ohio interstates. They argue that an increase in the speed limit will not cause a spike in accident fatalities.
Proponents of the legislation make the argument that the increased speed limit will not change driver behavior. Over 96,000 drivers travel this interstate daily. Currently, many drivers admit to driving 90 mph or more on Interstate 75.
Another argument in favor of the legislation is that neighboring states already have a speed limit of 70 mph. West Virginia, Kentucky, Michigan and Indiana are among these states. Additionally, the independently run Ohio Turnpike also has a 70 mph speed limit as of April 2011.
Drivers are not opposed to changing speed limits when it is a smart decision. The Ohio Trucking Association supported the increase in 2009 to 65 mph. This was a logical change that allowed all drivers on the highway to drive at the same speed.
While proponents of increasing the speed limit use the “everybody’s doing it” argument, truck drivers are still concerned about safety. Those who make a living in truck driving jobs also have to worry about aggressive drivers. A few of them consider the problems with merging onto the highway. Entering and exiting the highway becomes a hazard when cars are driving at high speeds. Other driving maneuvers like changing lanes also becomes difficult for truck drivers.
The economics of having a moderate speed limit is another factor. Most trucking companies prefer to maintain the 65 mph speed limit to control fuel costs. An increase of five miles is a small amount for speed, but can be a large dollar amount per gallon. On average, trucks lose a half mile per gallon in fuel when driving at 70 mph. This can quickly add up over time, especially as fuel prices exceed $3 per gallon.
So far, neither the Ohio DOT, nor the Ohio State Highway Patrol has endorsed this legislation. The debate continues with each side voicing its concerns.