National Motorists, OOIDA dispute ATA speed-limiter claims

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 4/28/2015

In a joint statement issued Tuesday, April 28, the National Motorists Association and Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association questioned claims made by the American Trucking Associations about capping truck speeds at 65 mph.

“The ATA is searching for a solution to a problem that doesn’t exist,” NMA President Gary Biller said in the statement. “They want to turn back the clock from today’s speed limits at a time when U.S. highways are statistically safer than at any time in the past. Much safer, in fact, than when the federal government regulated the maximum speed of all vehicles to 55 mph between 1974 and 1995. It makes you wonder why.”

ATA issued a press release on April 20 urging the Obama administration to make speed limiters mandatory on all trucks and impose a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles. ATA claims that driving “too fast for conditions” or “over the posted speed limit” was the primary reason for 18 percent of all fatal crashes “where a large truck was deemed at fault.”

The National Motorists Association and OOIDA point out that from 2011 to 2013, 80 percent of fatal crashes that involved a large truck occurred on roads with speed limits posted at or below 65 mph, and that 60 percent of the crashes were on roads posted at or below 55 mph.

The groups also point out that many of the large fleets – the ones equipped with speed limiters, electronic logging and other so-called safety technologies – have higher crash rates than independent truckers that do not operate with those technologies.

“Larger trucking firms are already speed-limiting their fleets and yet it is the trucks without artificial limiters that are much safer on the road,” Biller stated. “So why do the big guys want to regulate everyone, cars and one-truck or small fleet carriers alike, down to their less-safe level?”

OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said slowing down trucks may burn less fuel, but that also forces a speed differential between cars and trucks.

“While the big carrier executives who are proponents of speed limiters talk about improved safety, when you talk to professional drivers, the first thing they mention is how speed limiters compromise safety and increase risk of accidents between trucks and cars,” Spencer stated, adding that another tradeoff is a driver’s time.

“Since virtually all over-the-road carriers pay only for miles driven and nothing for the driver’s time, it’s easy to see who wins and who loses economically,” he said. “Nearly all of the big truckload motor carriers work tirelessly to grow regulations and mandates that they claim will improve safety. However crash numbers show just the opposite.”

In a separate letter on Friday, April 24, OOIDA told federal regulators that there is a lack of solid science to back up a mandate for speed limiters. The Association urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to take studies about speed differentials into account before jumping the gun on a proposed rule.

According to FMCSA and NHTSA, the agencies intend to submit a proposed rule on speed limiters to the White House Office of Management and Budget any day. The agencies say they intend to publish a proposed rule on or about July 27.

See related story:
OOIDA to feds: Speed limiters would create unsafe speed differential

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