regulators June 5 suspended the controversial 55-mph speed limit
on Houston-area freeways, but the change might not take effect
until next spring due to public hearings, approval by federal
regulators and implementation by Texas transportation officials,
the Houston Chronicle reported.
A day earlier,
Texas Gov. Rick Perry ordered the Texas Department of Transportation
to use clean diesel in its Houston-area fleet in an apparent
effort to bolster the case for repealing the unpopular 55 mph
cited new federal models showing the amount of nitrogen oxides
removed from the air by driving slower was significantly less
than originally estimated. Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission Chairman Robert Huston said ongoing scientific evaluations
supported the decision. However, the evaluation does not yet
support repealing the 55 mph limit for trucks weighing 10,000
pounds or more, he added.
is absolutely shocking that the Texas Natural Resource Conservation
Commission would actually proceed with a measure that would
make Houston highways more dangerous to avoid public pressure
over environmental regulations," said Todd Spencer, vice
president, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.
terms of highway safety, the very last thing public officials
should be advocating is setting different speed limits for different
classes of vehicles using the same roads," Spencer said.
"Highways will always be safest when all vehicles are traveling
at the same speed. This reality has been confirmed numerous
times over the past three decades."
said a study done by the Center for Transportation Research
at the University of Austin found that having trucks travel
as little as 5 mph slower than cars nearly doubles the likelihood
of a crash. And an increase in the speed variance between cars
and trucks to 15 mph (as is being proposed) increases the likelihood
of a highway crash by a factor of nine, the study said.
the governor would like it if more agencies, such as school
districts, county governments, city governments and public transportation
entities can be persuaded to follow suit. He said reductions
of as much as 20 tons per day of nitrogen oxide emissions could
be feasible by 2007 if this were to happen. The department will
monitor the program, which aims to have the entire fleet in
the Houston-Beaumont region on clean diesel by November.
local environmental officials may have a real hot potato on
their hands for now, the responsible solution is not to turn
trucks into rolling roadblocks on metropolitan highways,"
the Texas Motor Transportation Association criticized the proposal.
TMTA President Bill Webb: "Trucks traveling a minimum of
15 mph slower than cars on Houston-area roadways is a recipe
for disaster and our regulators should know better than to propose
a measure to supposedly save lives by cleaning the air while
actually potentially causing the loss of life."
-- Dick Larsen, senior editor