OOIDA Wonders Why Speed Limiters Get the Green Light While Driver Training Standards Languish

An announcement to consider speed limiting heavy trucks to 68 mph has small business truckers wondering why this unproven science is moving forward while minimum training standards for drivers are still not on the books.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration agreed to initiate a rulemaking today based on pleas from big trucking entities even though there is no data to support any safety benefits to speed limiting trucks.

“Speed limiting a truck at 68 miles per hour, or at any other speed, will not improve highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). “All credible highway research shows that highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same speed and that different speeds for cars and trucks actually increase the likelihood of accidents.”

A study conducted by the University of Arkansas showed that speed limit differences between trucks and cars increase speed differentials, which create more dangerous interactions between trucks and cars. Also, a study conducted by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that speed limited trucks are overrepresented in rear-end fatalities involving large trucks. Only 4 percent of all trucks are speed limited, yet half of the rear-end fatalities involving trucks were with speed-limited trucks.

Notably, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s large truck crash causation study showed that there were no fatalities in crashes above 70 mph.

OOIDA contends that economics and the current per-mile pay structure for drivers is the real motivation to reduce the ability of trucks to go with the flow of traffic.

“Hiring the most experienced drivers and paying them professional wages isn’t a priority for most large motor carriers and it’s cheaper to just govern the engine,” Spencer said.

“This isn’t a safety measure NHTSA is proposing” added Spencer. “It’s a permission slip for big trucking companies to remain unaccountable.”

Currently, there are no regulations requiring any training whatsoever in order to obtain a commercial drivers license or CDL, even though there is a proposed rule that has been pending for years with the FMCSA.

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