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Oregon Bill Could Mean Big Speed Variance

March 11, 1999

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A bill under consideration in the Oregon Senate could boost speed limits for cars on rural interstates to 70 or 75 mph, while trucks remain restricted to 55.

Sen. Randy Miller is sponsoring bill SB558, which would allow speed increases or decreases to be set by the state Department of Transportation in areas approved by engineering and safety experts. However, the bill does not apply to heavy trucks, which are limited to 55 mph. Theoretically, there could be a 20-mph difference in the speed between trucks and cars on Oregon highways.
Miller, in an interview with RoadStar Radio News, points out that most drivers on Oregon’s interstates already are traveling an average of 71 mph. He believes it’s dangerous when one vehicle sticks to the lower posted limit, prompting the faster traffic to pass in unsafe conditions. Yet when asked about the potential large split between trucks and cars that could set up such a scenario, he said it was unlikely.
“I’m going to invest some degree of confidence in our Department of Transportation to recognize that would invite danger and be a foolish policy, and that reason would prevail and they wouldn’t do that. I guess if they did, we’d have to bring it back to the Legislature and give them an attitude adjustment.”
Miller says the state’s trucking industry testified against higher speed limits for trucks and took a neutral position on the bill in general.

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