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Sunday, November 18, 2012

The Difference Between 65 & 75 MPH
This is a guest post by Hank with a link provided to his site following below:

Hank Barton is a second generation trucker-philosopher with a penchant for the written word. He enjoys blogging about long haul trucking, safe driving practices and life on the open road. He writes for E-Gears, an online authority that specializes in a variety of study guides.

I’ve driven in Idaho and Utah quite a bit, and it’s usually a pretty good experience. Utah, in a lot of places, has a uniform speed limit for trucks and cars. Idaho, on the other hand, has a 10 mph difference on almost every mile of interstate road. Making the transition doesn’t bother me at all—I don’t usually drive 75 in Utah unless I’m in a real hurry and the 65 limit in Idaho is pretty normal.
In February, Idaho’s legislature tried to instate a 75 mph speed for trucks on the interstate. It still hasn’t made any real progress. Political deadlock seems to be as much of a factor in Idaho as it is anywhere else. On 10/18, after a 5-5 impasse, the legislature decided to discuss the decision with “various transportation committees.” Well… why wouldn’t they?

Here’s the thing: civil engineers argues with trucking company owners, who both argued with the state police. The police argued with legislators. According to several articles from various Idaho publications, they took some trucker testimonials in February. We’ll get back to that in a few seconds.
Bill Rode of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association said, "Safety only comes from the man sitting in the seat, behind the wheel." Rode is in favor of the consistent 75 mph speed limit across all of Idaho.
Though I don’t blindly agree with his views, there’s wisdom in what he says. Safety does come from the person behind the wheel, whether they’re a man or a woman, or whether they’re driving a truck or a smaller vehicle. Some people are very responsible and conscientious of trucks, and some people aren’t. Some truckers couldn’t care less about non-commercial vehicles, because they’re jaded and sick of being cut off. It starts and ends with the people behind the wheel, not with that black and white speed limit sign.

That brings me to my next point—the legislature asked a few truckers for testimonial in February, but not this time. Police officers, civil engineers and company owners are often smart folks, but they usually don’t have 18 wheels to the ground. I’m not saying we shouldn't respect their opinions and analysis, but what I am saying is this: they should respect ours.
Now, there’s a chance that sitting down with the “various transportation committees” will produce some results, or at least get a conversation started. It’s not often that two truckers fully agree on the speed limit issue, so it’s hard to see anyone else agreeing on it. Most of us more worried about fuel efficiency and winning that stready-at-65 race than we are about speeding into the night, but there are some drivers I know who will gladly pay some more money for gas to get unloaded more quickly. For those few people that 75 mph increase might mean the world.
You might be picking up on something now, and that’s that I’m just as undecided as the Idaho legislature when it comes to what the perfect speed is for trucks. Safety is important, but truckers and other drivers have been dealing with each other for decades. Besides a few four letter words and some fist-shaking, we get along just fine. The ecosystem is thriving, but it’s not safe for everyone. 

Speaking personally, I don’t have much more trouble in Utah than I do in Idaho. When I’m not driving 75 in the Beehive state, it makes some motorists mad. When I am driving 75, sometimes people pass me like I’m driving 65. I don’t have a governor on my truck, but I still keep it lower if I can.
As truckers, we have to adapt to every different state we’re in and every different road we’re on. And as the people behind the wheel, we’re usually pretty safe and courteous. My point here is that we can be safe under most any condition, but we rely on everyone else to be safe too. These state legislatures need to take our opinions into consideration more than just giving us lip service, because we use the interstates right along with them.
No one wants anyone to crash, so we need to listen to each other. I don’t have all of (or any of!) the answers to this, but I’m glad that people are finally talking about it. We can adapt and thrive under most any conditions, but wouldn’t it be nice if things were finally ideal? Maybe the answer is as simple as every Idaho state legislator doing a ride-along with a trucker for a day to see what it’s like. If we all understood each other’s perspectives, I think the answer to this little ten mile speed limit debate might be pretty obvious.
Truckers know that there’s a lot to learn about driving, about fuel efficiency, about the business and about staying safe. Maybe if everyone was as willing to learn as a trucker is then we’d have those ideal road conditions we’ve been dreaming of, regardless of if that means a hike in speed or not.
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