ATA using two routes to push for speed limiters?

| 2/22/2006

Word is out that the ATA wants speed limiters set at 68 mph on all new trucks at the point of manufacture.

An ATA panel voted on an endorsement of speed limiters Feb. 14 during the organization’s annual Winter Leadership Meeting in Florida.

ATA’s endorsement has some in the industry – including truckers and owner-operators – wondering if that means the motor-carrier organization is going to push for a government mandate.

So far, the official intentions of ATA appear to be twofold.

Last week, ATA spokesman Mike Russell told Land Line there is no immediate suggestion for a government mandate. He said ATA would instead ask truck manufacturers to activate the speed limiters.

“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.

But an unidentified spokeswoman, quoted in a Feb. 17 story in the Omaha World Herald, stated that ATA was going to seek a government mandate.

The World Herald stands by the source, so which spokesperson is right, or are they both right? Repeated calls to the ATA by “Land Line Now” regarding that very question had not been returned as of midday Wednesday, Feb. 22.

ATA’s justification for speed limiters is fuel economy and safety, Russell said last week, adding that ATA used surveys and research to come up with the number of 68 mph.

“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.”

Speed limiters have already been part of truck computer systems for 10 years. ATA research shows nearly 75 percent of fleets have activated speed limiters on their trucks as company policy.

But even those are at different speeds, depending on the fleet and the policy.

– By David Tanner, staff writer