AIA: Increasing Idaho’s Speed Limit for Large Trucks will be Disastrous

February 24, 2005

Raising the speed limit for large trucks and other vehicles on Idaho’s state highways is a recipe for disaster, according to the American Insurance Association. S. 1133, sponsored by the Idaho Department of Transportation, seeks to increase speed limits on Idaho’s state highways from 65 to 75 miles per hour. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Senate Transportation Committee Feb. 24.

“S. 1133 is a dangerous measure that will put Idaho drivers in harm’s way,” said Steve Suchil, AIA assistant vice president, Western Region. “Past experience shows us that every time the legal speed limit is increased, more people drive above that new limit. So in reality, people will be driving 80 to 85 on rural two-lane roads if the legal limit is set at 75 mph. This bill would also amend current law to allow very heavy trucks pulling two and three trailers to travel at these excessive speeds.

“We know that in accidents involving cars and large trucks, the occupants of cars pay the highest price,” Suchil continued. “The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that in 2003, of vehicle occupants killed in two-vehicle crashes involving a passenger vehicle and a large truck, 98 percent were occupants of the passenger vehicles.”

“Increased speed is not the only hazard this bill will cause,” said David Snyder, AIA vice president and assistant general counsel. “Cars and trucks drive at varying speeds. Increasing the speed limit will increase the number of crashes and accidents. It takes a long time and a lot of space to stop an 80,000-pound truck. Higher speeds translate into more distance a truck needs to come to a stop. This bill is bad public policy that will put lives at risk.

“Legislators should see this bill for what it is: deadly accidents waiting to happen,” Snyder said.

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