Some commercial vehicles will now be permitted to drive 65 miles per hour on designated interstate highways.
“The 60-plus is for commercial vehicles that weigh in excess of 8,000 pounds, empty weight, or non-commercial buses,” said Sgt. Karla Taulbee of the Ohio State Highway Patrol. “And they are going to be able to go 65 on certain interstate highways. ODOT (Ohio Department of Transportation) will pick which roads that the trucks can go 65 on. They cannot go 65 until that sign is posted.”
Taulbee indicated ODOT expected all signs to be posted by today.
“This is a good change for the trucking industry,” said District 9 Public Information Officer Kathleen Fuller. “They have worked with us on this too. While it’s an ODOT initiative, we have worked with public safety, the Highway Patrol and the Trucking Association together with the legislature. It was a part of House Bill 2.”
Fuller said things will not change in this area of southern Ohio.
“This will not affect our area (District 9) of ODOT,” Fuller said. “There are no interstate highways in our district so we’re not out changing signs or anything.”
Emergency vehicles including tow trucks have now been added to the list of vehicles for which you must move over into the left lane or slow down for.
“The emergency vehicles are municipal, township, or county departments vehicles, and also off-road service vehicles, which are also your wreckers, utility repair vehicles, state, county, and municipal service vehicles,” Taulbee said. “But those vehicles have to have flashing or oscillating rotating lights. So if they are not equipped with flashing lights, or rotating lights, they do not qualify.”
When drivers pass such vehicles, Taulbee said they need to pull over to the left, as the current law now requires for law enforcement and fire fighting vehicles, or if the driver can’t change lanes, slow down when passing those emergency vehicles.
“Now, your headlights have to be on whenever your windshield wipers are on because of precipitation,” Taulbee said. “This is a secondary offense, like your seat belts. You can’t be stopped for not having your headlights on,” Taulbee said. “This is the only one that has a six-month warning period. So warnings only will be issued until Dec. 31, 2009. Then, starting Jan. 1, 2010, then enforcement can be issued.”
Taublee stressed motorists still, even after the first of the year, cannot be pulled over for the offense. Taulbee said the motorist must be pulled over for another violation before they can receive a citation for not having headlights on while their wipers are on. Taulbee said a vehicle’s running lights qualify as having headlights on, because many vehicles’ running lights come on automatically.
There was also to be a new law establishing transition lanes when posted speed limits drop by 20 miles per hour, to guard against speed traps.
Apparently that law did not make the cut.
“I was told yesterday (Tuesday) that got vetoed out of there,” Taulbee said. “One section passed it, but in the final version it got vetoed out.”
The new laws took effect on Tuesday.
FRANK LEWIS may be reached at (740) 353-3101, ext. 232.