As an industry, trucking is concerned with safety—from the governing associations all the way to the each independent operator. Speed limit is always a major safety consideration, especially when the laws of physics determine that a higher rate of travel equals a greater chance for serious damage, injury, or worse. Benefits of keeping the speed limit low are well documented, and include improved fuel economy, and curbing the number of accidents by reducing a truck’s stopping distance.
But sometimes, the perceived benefits of an increased speed limit—less travel time, in particular—outweigh the sensibility of keeping speeds lower, and some Minnesotans simply want the option to drive faster. Last June, an amendment was approved which began a systematic evaluation to determine whether individual corridors throughout the state could shoulder the burden of increased speed. The amendment was offered by Sen. Torrey Westrom (R-Elbow Lake), who explained that the longer distances traveled by drivers in rural Minnesota necessitate higher speed limits, citing safer roads and better cars as evidence that the infrastructure could handle the increase.
An alternative to raising the speed limit that’s been considered but voted down is to create a different speed limit for cars and trucks. Because a greater speed differential inevitably leads to more crashes on the roads, roads become more dangerous when trucks slow down and cars continue to drive at current speeds. Truck drivers know this from experience; engineers with the Minnesota Department of Transportation corroborate the fact based on empirical evidence: “Study after study shows uniform speeds provide the safest conditions,” Amr Jabr, a MNDOT traffic engineer, is quoted as saying.
As such, the Minnesota Trucking Association continues to name uniform speed as one of their top policy priorities for highway safety, specifically opposing different speed limits for cars and trucks.