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Trucking Speed Limits Proposed

January 29, 2002
By: Brian Connolly
State Capital Bureau
Links: SB 946

JEFFERSON CITY - Truckers on Missouri highways would have to hit the brakes under a bill introduced by Sen. Ken Jacob, D-Columbia.

The measure reduces the speed limit for trucks weighing more than forty-eight thousand pounds from 70 to 65 miles per hour on rural interstates and freeways. Violaters would be fined $100 for every five miles per hour they exceeded the limit.

"On a reasonably regular basis I see accidents involving big trucks and they're horrible accidents," Jacob said. "They're barrelling down the highways, over 80 miles an hour, 80 thousand pounds, and you don't need much to see that it's dangerous."

The bill's treatment of trucks differently than cars is opposed by the Missouri Motor Carriers Association which represents the state's trucking industry. While the association supports a reduction in speed limits, association president George Burruss said it should be across the board.

"Speeding vehicles are speeding vehicles even though one is bigger than the other," Burruss said.

Jacob said truckers have an incentive to speed because the industry makes money based on the time it takes to get from one destination to another. He also disagreed that car and truck accidents are the same.

"If a car hits another car it can be a terrible accident, but if a truck hits another car or another truck it will be a terrible accident," Jacob said.

Maximum speed limits for trucks are 65 miles per hour or less in 28 states, according to the National Motorists Association.

The bill would also levy an additional three cent per gallon tax on diesel fuel, on top of the current 17 cent per gallon tax on all motor fuel.

Truckers already pay more fuel tax, Burruss said, because their vehicles typically get five miles per gallon, much less than the typical car. While his group isn't opposed to an increase in the fuel tax, they are against a tax targeting trucks but not cars.

"We think the differential is already there," Burruss said.

Jacob said the fact that trucks aren't as fuel efficient as cars doesn't mean they shouldn't be charged for the damage they do to Missouri's highways.

"By making that choice to transport their goods in those types of vehicles, they are tearing our highways apart and the rest of the taxpayers are eating the bill," Jacob said.

The proposed bill would also raise some fees paid by truckers. Similar legislation proposed by Jacob last year fell three votes short of Senate approval.