John P. Young has been practicing Indiana Truck Injury law for 22 years. He recently assisted a Hoosier injured in a semi tractor trailer accident. The facts of the case shed light on the speed limits on our interstate highway system. Speed limits on the highway system are regulated by Indiana statutory law. This simply means that the Indiana legislature passed a law which controls speed on our highways. The numerical designation for the statute is I.C. 9-21-5-2. The “I.C.” stands for Indiana Code. This is how law enforcement refers to the statute passed by the Indiana legislature. I.C. 9-21-5-2 deals with speed limits for more than just semi tractor-trailer trucks or other large trucks. It also deals with more than just the Interstate highway system. However for purposes of this blog, we will cite only to the sections applicable to large trucks and semi tractor-trailers, and the Interstate highway system. The statute states:
Sec. 2. Except when a special hazard exists that requires lower speed for compliance with section 1 of this chapter, the slower speed limit specified in this section or established as authorized by section 3 of this chapter is the maximum lawful speed. A person may not drive a vehicle on a highway at a speed in excess of the following maximum limits:
(2) Fifty-five (55) miles per hour, except as provided in subdivisions (1), (3), (4), (5), (6), and (7).
(3) Seventy (70) miles per hour on a highway on the national system of interstate and defense highways located outside of an urbanized area (as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101) with a population of at least fifty thousand (50,000), except as provided in subdivision (4).
(4) Sixty-five (65) miles per hour for a vehicle (other than a bus) having a declared gross weight greater than twenty-six thousand (26,000) pounds on a highway on the national system of interstate and defense highways located outside an urbanized area (as defined in 23 U.S.C. 101) with a population of at least fifty thousand (50,000).
(6) On a highway that is the responsibility of the Indiana finance authority established by IC 4-4-11:
(A) seventy (70) miles per hour for:
(i) a motor vehicle having a declared gross weight of not more than twenty-six thousand (26,000) pounds; or
(ii) a bus; or
(B) sixty-five (65) miles per hour for a motor vehicle having a declared gross weight greater than twenty-six thousand (26,000) pounds.
This is the statement of the maximum speeds. As you have noted on the highways, trucks with a weight over 26,000 pounds have a lower speed limit than do passenger cars. Now we all know about the maximum limit, but there is also a minimum speed limit on our interstate highway system. Truckers know this, it is part of their training. The minimum speed limit is controlled by another Indiana statute.
9-21-5-8 Minimum speed limits
Sec. 8. Whenever the Indiana department of transportation within the department’s jurisdiction or a local authority within the authority’s jurisdiction determines, based on an engineering and traffic investigation, that slow speeds on a part of a highway consistently impede the normal and reasonable movement of traffic, the Indiana department of transportation or local authority may determine and declare a minimum speed limit below which a person may not drive a vehicle except when necessary for safe operation or in compliance with law. A limit determined under this subsection and declared by appropriate resolution, regulation, or ordinance becomes effective when appropriate sign or signals giving notice of the limit of speed are erected along the affected part of a highway.
The minimum speed limit on Indiana highways is 50 miles per hour. In the case referenced, the injured Hoosier was traveling 55 miles per hour when a truck behind him moved into the passing lane to pass him. Just as the truck was passed him, a second truck, which was exceeding the speed limit and not paying attention hit the Hoosier in the rear and hurt him badly.
I hope this is a wakeup call to truckers to maintain proper speed, and look out while on Hoosier roads.