Ohio lawmakers may consider raising the speed limit for truckers from 55 to 65 mph to match the speed of cars sharing the highways.
"Make the speed limit whatever you want, but make it the same for everyone," said Raymond Kasicki, a Cleveland truck driver, in recent hearings by an Ohio House Transportation and Public Safety Committee. Kasicki is a board member of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn., which lobbies to eliminate what it calls "split speeds" that currently exist in 11 states.
State Rep. Sam Bateman, chairman of the House committee, is concerned that if the state raises the speed limit, trucks in that area already going 65 mph will drive 75 mph. In 1997, Bateman blocked House consideration of a bill that would have increased the truck speed limit. But OOIDA hopes that a new governor and a newly elected General Assembly will look more favorably on the measure. The bill, House Bill 11, was introduced in January by Rep. Ron Hood.
Despite Bateman's concerns, he told the Columbus Dispatch that unless he gets clear opposition from Gov. Taft's administration, he may soon send the truck speed-limit bill to the House floor.
A spokesman for Lt. Gov. Maureen O'Connor, who is also Ohio public safety director, said the administration is evaluating the measure.
Even if the measure passes the Ohio House, there's still the state Senate to consider. State Sen. Scott Oelslager, chairman of the Senate Highway and Transportation Committee, says he remains "very much opposed to higher truck speeds."
The Ohio State Highway Patrol opposes legislation to make Ohio speed limits uniform because of the greater stopping distance of tractor-trailers at higher speeds. The Ohio Trucking Assn. is neutral on the matter.