SPECIAL REPORT: ATA endorses engine governors at 68 mph

| 2/14/2006

The American Trucking Association voted Tuesday, Feb. 14, to endorse setting engine governors on all new trucks at 68 mph at the time of manufacture.

Right now, there is no immediate suggestion for a government mandate, an ATA spokesman said.

But, the bold vote was unanimous among the 70 motor carrier representatives at the association's annual Winter Leadership Meeting in Florida, a spokesman said.

ATA President and CEO Bill Graves issued this statement following the vote.

"There has been a growing sense within the trucking industry for the need to slow down the large truck population as well as all traffic," Graves said. "With speeding as a factor in one third of all fatal highway crashes, it makes all the sense in the world to work to reduce this number."

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association took an immediate exception to ATA's endorsement of speed limiters.

OOIDA Director of Regulatory Affairs Rick Craig said ATA has gone on record in the past against regulations mandating that engine governors be activated.

"We certainly expected ATA to make an about face and come out in support of speed limiters," Craig said Tuesday, Feb. 14. "We just didn't think it would happen this soon."

ATA media spokesman Mike Russell confirmed with Land Line that "at the time of manufacture" does mean engine governors.

"This would involve setting maximum truck speeds at 68 miles per hour through the use of the engine governor, or the better term, the speed limiter," Russell said.

"Most major carriers already govern their trucks. The survey finds just over 74 percent of the major carriers use speed limiters and the majority of them are set at 70 (mph) or below."

He explained how researchers came up with 68 mph as the recommended cap.

"It's a mix between 65 mile-per-hour state speed limits and higher ones. To go any lower would increase the speed differential and of course that increases the potential for contact between cars and trucks," Russell said. "So, 68 mph was chosen as speed that accomplishes the goal of slowing down but doesn't slow down too much to cause a problem."

OOIDA's regulatory director said the ATA study probably came from within its membership.

"In other words, they pulled it out of their ear," Craig said. "It makes no sense. There is no rational or scientific basis to come up with a speed limit that's somewhere in the middle."

The vote and press release by ATA is somewhat timely, compared to an issue going on in Canada right now.

The Ministry of Transportation of Ontario is on the verge of issuing a statement or report on a proposal from the Ontario Trucking Association for a government-mandated speed limit of 65 mph through the use of engine governors.

Russell said ATA has been aware of the Canadian proposal for some time.

"A factory-set speed limit exists in Europe and in Australia, and it's an issue in Canada right now, but it didn't have a real direct bearing on this process," Russell said.

- By David Tanner, staff writer