For the Record
Both petitions proposed installation of devices on new trucks that would limit top speed to 68 mph on trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) greater than 26,000 pounds. The major difference between the petitions is that Road Safe America and its nine carrier allies also want speed limiters mandated on all existing trucks built after 1990.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed, however. “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 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, OOIDA said. 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. Four percent of all trucks are speed limited, yet half of the rear-end fatalities involving trucks were with speed-limited trucks, the association pointed out.
NHTSA’s notice granting the petitions does not explain why it won’t begin the rulemaking for more than a year. The notice does mention, however, that NHTSA expects FMCSA to publish findings of a study on the safety impact and associated economic benefits of speed limiters in commercial motor vehicles.
The decision to grant the petitions from ATA and Road Safe America to conduct a rulemaking does not mean that a final rule will be issued, NHTSA said in its Federal Register notice. “The determination of whether to issue a rule is made after study of the requested action and the various alternatives in the course of the rulemaking proceeding, in accordance with statutory criteria.”
Even if NHTSA doesn’t ultimately adopt the specific rule ATA and Road Safe America seek, speed limiters would become more common under another rule NHTSA and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency already propose related to heavy-truck fuel efficiency and greenhouse gas emissions reduction. Under the EPA/NHTSA proposal, truck manufacturers would face mandates to increase fuel efficiency of tractor-trailers though use of several technologies, including vehicle speed limiters.
More information on the petitions for rulemaking and comments on those petitions are available at www.regulations.gov by searching NHTSA-2007-26851.
Techs Win Thousands in Rush Contest
Throughout the two-day Rush Tech Skills Rodeo, held in the San Antonio, Texas, convention center Dec. 13-14, Rush Truck Centers Service Operations Vice President Mike Besson introduced one technician with the phrase “always the bridesmaid, never the bride.”
That technician, Chris Zweifel, has worked for a decade with the Rush El Paso, Texas, Peterbilt store, following a career in maintenance in the U.S. Army. Since the Tech Skills competition began in 2006 at the company’s Nashville store, he’s been near the top but never first.
Besson used the phrase for the second time at the Rodeo’s awards banquet when announcing that Zweifel was the 2010 Rodeo’s heavy-duty grand champion. “I made it to the final round every year,” said Zweifel. “But to win, it’s just awesome.”
San Antonio-based Rush technician Matthew Pogue won the medium-duty crown. Between them, they bagged cash and prizes valued at $38,000; top-three finishers in various categories took home $3,000-plus awards as well.