Indiana drivers may notice that semi-trucks don’t travel as fast as cars on the highway. Indiana is one of only eight U.S. states requiring large trucks to follow a lower speed limit than passenger vehicles on rural highways and interstates.
Indiana lawmakers are considering changing how fast semi-trucks can go legally. Our experienced Indianapolis truck accident lawyers at Sevenish Law Firm will explain more about this controversial issue.
How Fast Can Semi-Trucks Go Legally on Indiana’s Rural Highways?
Large trucks that weigh 26,000 pounds or more can only travel at 65 mph on Indiana’s rural highways and interstates. Any vehicles weighing less can proceed at 70 mph. While 5 mph isn’t a huge difference, some people believe these split speed limits contribute to traffic congestion. Passing these slightly slower but much larger trucks is often problematic.
Will Semi-Truck Speed Limits Change?
In 2019, Purdue University and the Indiana Department of Transportation joined forces to perform a study. Results indicate that a consistent 70 mph speed limit would facilitate a 20% reduction in crash frequency for all levels of severity.
Indiana state Senator Jim Tomes authored Senate Bill 13, which passed from the Senate to the House in March of 2023. This bill would raise Indiana’s legal truck speed limit to 70 mph in rural areas, the same speed as other vehicles.
The Indiana Motor Truck Association opposes this bill, as do others. Opponents state that increasing how fast semi-trucks can go presents more danger, not less. According to Mr. Tomes, trucking companies can set maximum speed limits for their vehicles.
Why Are Truck Accidents So Dangerous?
A fully loaded tractor-trailer can legally weigh 80,000 pounds. These trucks typically average 72 feet long, 13.5 feet tall, and 8.5 feet wide. In comparison, passenger vehicles average around 4,000 pounds, 15 feet long and 6 feet wide.
These significant size differences mean that when a semi-truck collides with a passenger car, the car’s occupants will likely sustain injuries and the impact usually demolishes the vehicle. Large trucks have some disadvantages when it comes to stopping:
- At 65 mph, fully loaded trucks need approximately 525 feet of stopping distance; cars only require around 300 feet.
- Semi-trucks typically use air brakes, which take time to engage.
- A truck’s larger tires are more susceptible to blowouts.
- Adverse weather conditions like snow, ice and rain may dramatically increase typical stopping distances.
The faster a truck goes, the longer it takes to stop. Many people don’t realize that a truck’s performance significantly differs from a car’s. Passenger vehicle drivers may suddenly merge in front of trucks in heavy traffic, not understanding that the truck can’t slow as quickly.
What Does the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Advise About Truck Speeds?
The FMCSA reports that traveling at speeds over posted limits contributes to many crashes, as does driving faster than conditions indicate. As part of its Safe Speed campaign, the FMCSA recommends that truck drivers should:
- Reduce speeds in work zones
- Check their route for hazardous weather conditions
- Drive at speeds appropriate for road and weather conditions
- Reduce speeds lower than those posted on ramps and curves
- Be cognizant of long stopping distances
- Remember that steep downhill grades can cause fast increases in speed
While the FMCSA developed these guidelines for semi-trucks, all drivers can benefit from them.
Does Indiana Have Many Semi-Truck Accidents?
Indiana has more commercial freight movement than most states, meaning many semi-trucks travel daily on Indianapolis roads. In 2020:
- 12,841 of the state’s reported 175,821 collisions involved large trucks.
- 126 fatal crashes involved large trucks.
- 1,617 large truck collisions caused injuries.
- Most fatal commercial vehicle accidents were on interstates (34.3%), U.S. routes (20.1%) and state roads (23.1%) (the percentages refer to state fatal collision totals).
- 68% of the 2,589 people who sustained injuries in CV accidents were in other vehicles.
Semi-truck collisions often produce severe injuries that require extensive medical treatments, prolonged periods away from work and significant property damage.
Did You Sustain Injuries in a Truck Accident?
Insurance claims for truck accidents are often complex. Multiple parties may be liable, and insurance companies don’t like paying the typically higher compensation amounts. Most commercial vehicle collisions require an in-depth investigation to gather evidence proving fault. Sevenish Law Firm can handle all aspects of your claim so you can focus on recovering from your injuries. We will:
- Provide you with information, advice and your legal options
- Handle all communications with insurance companies
- Perform all case-related administrative tasks
- Investigate your accident
- Negotiate a favorable settlement offer or take your case to court
People with legal representation typically receive more compensation than those who handle their own claims. Best of all, you won’t owe a fee unless we win compensation for you.
Why Choose Sevenish Law Firm for Your Truck Accident Claim?
At Sevenish Law Firm, we are fierce protectors of the injured. Because we focus on personal injury cases, we understand applicable Indiana laws and how to win against reluctant insurance companies. We believe in developing personal relationships with our clients, beginning with your free case evaluation.
Contact Sevenish Law Firm 24/7 to request a consultation or for more questions about how fast semi-trucks can legally go in Indiana. Call us at (317) 720-3229, use live chat or submit our online contact form today.