In what some critics are calling a move by large motor
carriers to put limits on their independent competitors, the ATA is moving
forward with its campaign to limit truck speeds at 68 mph.
ATA has scheduled a press conference Friday, Oct. 20, to
announce the filing of two petitions with federal agencies asking for
regulations mandating the activation of speed limiters on all heavy trucks.
The move comes just a month after nine of ATA's large motor
carriers sent a petition of their own to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration seeking the same regulation.
One of ATA's petitions, according to a press release, will
ask the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to limit truck speeds at
the point of manufacture. An accompanying petition will ask FMCSA to prohibit
tampering with the devices to set them higher than 68 mph.
The move goes further than a previous ATA effort to ask the
OEMs to activate speed limiters on a voluntary basis.
All of the OEMs already activate speed limiters, but that
happens at the request of their customers. Many fleets have speed limiters
activated at the point of manufacture.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has
opposed all measures for a one-size-fits-all limit to truck speeds,
particularly when 24 states have speed limits of 70 mph or higher.
"It appears to be a public relations campaign to, in
essence, try to cast themselves as being a super-safety advocate," OOIDA
Executive Vice President Todd Spender told "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite
Spencer alluded to the "bigger and heavier" agenda that many
large motor carriers support.
"Another issue that some of these folks have been sort of
implying is that they would like to go in the direction of bigger and heavier
trucks and longer combination vehicles - heavier weights of 96,000 or 98,000
pounds," Spencer said.
Spencer said speed limiters on an 80,000-pound semi-truck
could potentially create more hazard than benefit on the highways.
"A truck with a speed limiter on it is going to be more
challenging for a driver to drive for the certain instances where you might
need to speed up to get where you needed to be or to get out of somebody's
way," Spencer said. "A truck that lacks the ability to safely pass another
vehicle in a timely manner is going to be harder to drive. It's going to be
more challenging to driver."
Fuel efficiency, safety, the environment, driver shortages
and driver retention continue to be debated in relation to speed limiters.
Federal statistics, according to The Associated Press,
show that fatalities in truck-involved crashes have fallen substantially in the
past few years.
The activist group Public Citizen says drivers should be
paid by the hour and not by the mile, and that would render some of the other