Idaho speed limits to remain the same

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A bill that would have slowed car drivers by 5 mph on Idaho freeways has died in a Senate committee, the Associated Press reported Wednesday, Feb. 21. Sen. Tim Corder had hoped to slow cars to 70 mph, from the current 75 mph, while speeding up heavy trucks, which currently face a 65 mph speed limit.

The Mountain Home Republican told the AP that the idea behind his bill was that if both types of vehicles were traveling at 70 mph, they would pass each other less, and there would be fewer accidents as a result. “Just logically, fewer interactions are better,” Corder told the AP. “If we could put us all on the road driving exactly the same speed, we’d never pass another soul, and we’d get to our destination safely.”

Thirty-nine states already have the same speeds for cars and trucks on their highways, Corder said. But lawmakers deferred to Idaho residents, who sent dozens of e-mails to Senate Transportation Committee members, most opposing the change. Committee members voted unanimously Tuesday, Feb. 20, to kill the bill, S 1075, saying they might discuss the issue further later, if there was more evidence to support a change.

However, lawmakers agreed the bill was likely dead for this session. “It’s a big decision, politically at least,” said Sen. David Langhorst, D-Boise. Committee members also said they were concerned that drivers might not obey the slower speed limit.

This is the second time Corder, who owns a trucking company himself, has tried to pass a bill that would tweak speed limits so that they were the same for cars and trucks. Last year, he tried to raise the speed limit on trucks to 75 mph. Corder based his latest proposal on a study by a professor at the University of Arkansas that showed 70 mph speed limits result in the fewest number of accidents, and the best compliance levels among drivers.

Corder told the AP he doesn’t plan to float a similar bill again next year unless he has more statistics on the benefits of matching speed limits for cars and trucks. “If I got the data, I would be encouraged to do that,” he told the AP. “Without it, it’s too touchy.”