House Bill 465, filed by Rep. Steve Carter (R-Baton Rouge), would make a range of plus-size vehicles, including school buses, semi-trucks and tractors, keep at least 10 mph below the posted speed limit on all interstate highways. The bill was on its way through the legislature, but on May 8, Carter turned the bill into an initiative to research speed differentials. He then filed a new bill that would lower the speed limits on large vehicles on elevated highways that are five miles long or longer. Those vehicles would also be required to stay in the right lane.
Semi-trucks can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. At highway speeds, these vehicles become essentially giant metal missiles. They are difficult to slow down, and when they are involved in truck accidents, fatalities often result. So, would lowering their speed help public safety?
Speed Differentials and Semi-Trucks
While it makes sense that slower trucks lead to less serious accidents, some argue that creating a speed differential between cars and trucks may actually lead to more accidents. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) cites a 2005 study from the University of Arkansas, titled Cost-Benefit Evaluation of Large Truck-Automobile Speed Limit Differentials on Rural Interstate Highways, which found that by creating a speed differential between trucks and cars, the number of interactions between vehicles increases. This 227 percent increase in vehicle interactions, the study argues, leads to an increase in accidents. A study from the Transportation Research Board of the National Research Council found similar results way back in 1993.
So, what do you think? Should we slow down semi-trucks, or should they keep the same speed as other vehicles?