January 4, 2010

Trucking 101: Speed Limits

A big, and long awaited change took place on January 1st in the trucking world. We didn't remember till just a little while ago. I am very happy about it and it has inspired another Trucking 101, something we haven't done in a while.

Speed...or more specifically speed limits.

Historically, and I love being able to put it that way, the state of Illinois has had a split speed limit. Cars were permitted to travel at 65mph while trucks were limited to 55 mph. As of January 1st, the limit for trucks was raised to 65 mph on interstates except around cities. It felt so great to breeze along through Illinois at 65 (without looking over our shoulders...but I didn't say that).

Illinois was not the only state with a split speed limit, and hopefully won't be the last to lift it! Just off the top of my head I can think of a number of states that have different speed limits for trucks than other vehicles, for starters, my very own Montana where cars can go 75 and trucks are limited to 65 on interstates, with a 65/60 split on side roads (60/55 at night). Other states with split speed limits include Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Ohio, Texas, and of course California, and I'm sure some of the Northeast states do as well, but we never go there anymore. Pitty! (no offense meant to my Northeastern friends...its a pretty part of the country, just not very pleasant to truck in!)

I assume there were studies done to prove that having trucks drive slower than the bulk of traffic would be safer, or maybe there were other reasons. Seems to be though, as observed from behind the windshield of our rig, that going slower just seems to make people do stupid things. I can't tell you the number of times in California traffic (and I simply use that state as an example because we spend so much time there and because the limit difference is significant) that we've been given dirty looks (or worse), and cut off because we held someone up as we puttered along at the state mandated 55mph. Cars in that state can go 70 in most areas, and seem to think us trucks are just puttering along for the heck of it, holding them up, getting in their way. And there is far more retaliation, and careless maneuvering going on than there should be because of it.

I know that OOIDA (Owner Operator Independent Driver Association) is working hard to get these states to lift their speed limiters for trucks, and safety is one of their number one reasons. It just makes more sense. Think about it. What is the likely hood that you'll try to pass a vehicle that traveling significantly slower than you? Whether on the interstate or side roads, it's what we do. I don't like being held up and so I pass! But passing is dangerous, especially on two lanes roads. With trucks traveling the same speed as the bulk of traffic, traffic would flow more smoothly, and risk of accidents reduced.

Anyway, that's my spill on speed limits. Next time your driving and get stuck behind a truck, before you start getting irritated watch for the speed limit signs. It may be that the truck isn't driving slow with the direct intention of just making your day rotten. Perhaps he or she is simply being obedient to the speed limit set by your state's government!


small farm girl said...

It's about time they were lifted! I always thought that was so dangerous.
Be safe out there,

Jim F Loos said...

It may be a rumor, but I heard that speed limits had more to do with fuel usage than safety.

I am always slowing down traffic. Moving hay, farm tractors, cattle and such, just part of ranching. I know other drivers think I'm out to get them and I stay on the farm market roads, but sometimes I do have to get on the highway. Sorry.

Please don't honk the cattle hate it. Just pass with caution flipping me off, everyone else does.

Ed said...

Now we just have to get California and Oregon to raise their limits and we'll be set.
p.s. Jim, I drive for Schneider and get flipped off all the time too..:-)

Jim F Loos said...


What I have found to be so strange is when you have anything kind of load or just a trailer, many everyday drivers freak out and don’t know how to act.

A mile from my house, I have to travel on a two line highway everyday to get home, there is no other way, road, going around the block, and any other choice.

The highway has a lot of traffic, when making the left turn I have to stop and let the on coming traffic to pass before I go. When just in the pickup, I have ever had a problem, but when I pulling any trailer loaded or not people get stupid.

I have drivers come by cussing and shouting raising hell. Most will just pass by the side, a few very few will stop behind me and wait, but many go ape s@%^ batty.

Hook up a trailer is like asking for abuse. I have no ideal why.

Meagan said...

I love trucking 101s! I always learn something! :-)

Also... nifty trick on your sidebar where you can link to "food" or "gifts" ...don't know if that's been there a while and I just noticed it or if you just added it, but I like it!! :-)

Janice said...

You learn something new everyday. I don't even know if it is that way here in Canada. I don't think it is most Truckers exceed the posted limit shhh I didn't say it out loud.