Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Say it ain’t so, Ohio

A couple of days ago I was minding my own business perusing the Internet for the latest statehouse happenings that would be of interest to truckers. On any given day I come across a gamut of topics. Some of the topics could be considered juicy while some might be labeled dry.

Well, thanks to a couple of knuckleheads in the Ohio House what popped up on my computer monitor was a bill well-suited for a nice ripe razzberry – to steal a term from my colleague Terry Scruton.

Less than two months after Gov. Ted Strickland signed into law a bill doing away with split speed limits on Buckeye interstates, two state lawmakers want to bring back a speed gap.

That’s right. Democratic Reps. Tim DeGeeter of Parma and Dan Dodd of Hebron have introduced a bill that would allow motorists to drive 70 mph on rural stretches of interstates – up from 65 mph.

Trucks, which right now are required to drive 55 mph on the same portions of roadway, have been cleared to travel 65 mph starting July 1.

The bill sponsors say one of the benefits of a 5 mph differential is that it would allow motorists to go faster around trucks.

“I think some of it’s a safety issue. They feel safer if they are able to get around trucks,” Dodd told WCMH-TV in Columbus, OH.

As you would expect, the lawmaker’s response went over like a lead balloon with OOIDA, which fought for several years to have the speed differential in the state eliminated. Research collected by the Association concludes that the difference in vehicle speeds, not excessive speed, contributes to accidents. Collisions occur when trucks and cars must change lanes and pass more frequently.

“The only speed limit policy that makes sense is to have all vehicles traveling at the same speed,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer.

Reading the comments of Spencer and Dodd leave me with one prevailing thought: Thank goodness for OOIDA’s work in Ohio on this issue. The Association’s use of well-thought-out reasoning and research to support their view is the perfect antidote to the simplistic “must pass truck” approach that some at the Ohio House are hopeful will win over lawmakers.