Wyoming official wants lower truck speeds

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A city councilman in Laramie, Wyo. is urging state lawmakers to lower the speed limit for semi-trucks on state highways. Dave O’Malley told the Associated Press that the speed limit for trucks should be lowered from 75 mph to 65 mph on the interstates, and from 65 mph to 55 mph on state highways.

Currently, all vehicles are allowed to travel 75 on interstates and 65 on most highways. Lawmakers killed a similar bill earlier this year after both the Wyoming Department of Transportation and the Wyoming Trucking Association spoke out against it.

“The studies we’re familiar with show it’s much safer when vehicles are traveling at the same speed,” says Sheila Foertsch, general manager of the Wyoming Trucking Association. “When you have trucks traveling at slower speeds, cars often come up from behind without realizing they’re going slower.” WyDOT also is ready to oppose the bill again for the same reason, WyDOT spokesman Keith Guille says. Eleven states currently have differential speed limits.

According to the Federal Highway Administration, fewer trucks have collided with cars in states that have differential speed limits. But the number of cars that have collided with trucks is greater. Additionally, in comparisons of states that have differential speed limits and states that have normal speed limits, there appeared to be no difference in the total number of crashes or the severity of crashes. As for two-lane highways, reports indicate differential speed limits could result in more head-on crashes as drivers traveling 65 mph attempt to pass trucks traveling 55 mph.

Of the 12,000 vehicles that traveled Interstate 80 in 2002, WyDOT says nearly half were classified as large trucks. Those numbers are expected to double over the next 20 years.