Arkansas Trucking Association

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The Last Word

Slow Down Speed Limit Increases

By Matt Hart

On Aug. 8, a new law went into effect in Arkansas, allowing the Department of Transportation to raise the speed limit on some major highways to 75 mph. So far, no speed limits have actually changed, but engineers are studying the traffic patterns and road designs to determine where and if the speed limits should be raised.

We’ve been asking ‘how fast can we go?’ on highways all around the country. Questions asked less often: Is it safe? Is it worth it? How do you know?

While Arkansas may choose not to go any faster on any of its 16,432 highway miles, DOT is slowing down to ask the right questions.

In my state, Illinois, I’ve seen this speed limit debate go on for nearly two decades.  The Illinois Trucking Association (ITA) fought for years for uniform speed limits after enduring many years where the speed limit was 55 for trucks and 65 for cars.  Legislation initiated by our Association in 2011 finally closed that speed limit differential to 65 mph for all vehicles, with a couple of exceptions near Chicago.

When the speed limit issue arose again recently, ITA opposed legislation, similar to Arkansas’s, to raise speed limits to 75 miles per hour outside the Chicago area, citing the trucking industry’s concern over safety.

The proposal was defeated, but we are confident that lawmakers will make another push in the near future to raise speed limits.

Safety should be the priority for any legislative proposals, and we fail to see how incentivizing faster cars will lead to safer highways, especially when you consider that cars cause up to 80 percent of the crashes involving trucks, according to the American Trucking Associations.  In addition, raising the posted speed limit will really only affect some portion of the 18-percent of motor carriers that don’t use speed limiters; and there is no data to indicate that a small portion of trucks driving faster will lead to safer highways for all.

In a survey of ITA motor carrier members, 82 percent say they already use speed limiters on their trucks.  Of those carriers that do have speed limiters, 96 percent have set the speed limiters set at 70 miles per hour or less.

So who is speeding?  Who will go faster if speed limits are raised?  In our opinion, there are two groups of motorists that will be traveling faster: automobile drivers and some portion of the truck drivers that do not utilize speed limiters. 

One other consideration often missed in the speed limit debate is the safety of the individuals that work on the shoulder of our highways: the police officers, the construction workers, the truck driver who is stranded on the side of the road, the tow truck operator, the technician, and even the stranded automobile drivers and passengers.  Anyone that has been stranded on the side of the road knows how dangerous it is to have vehicles passing by only a few feet away.  Higher speed limits will not make our roads safer for those who find themselves on the shoulder of the road.

For these reasons, we need to continue to oppose efforts to raise the speed limit on our highways.  Safety will always be first in trucking, and until someone can demonstrate how higher speed limits will lead to safer highways, we will continue to advocate for the lower, uniform speed limits for all vehicles.

Matt Hart is the Executive Director of the Illinois Trucking Association, a non-profit trade organization that exists to promote, protect, and educate the trucking industry in Illinois.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Suite 185
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
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