Opposing parties

| April 01, 2006

ATA Recommends Trucks Factory Governed at 68 MPH
The American Trucking Associations wants new Class 7 and 8 trucks governed at 68 mph when they leave the factory, the group announced at its annual winter meeting Feb. 14.

“There has been a growing sense within the trucking industry for the need to slow down the large truck population as well as all traffic,” said Bill Graves, ATA President and CEO. “With speeding as a factor in one-third of all fatal highway crashes, it makes all the sense in the world to work to reduce this number.”

The 68 mph setting was the recommendation of ATA’s speed management working group, which found that 75 percent of the trucks it evaluated had speed governors, most of them set at 70 mph or lower.

The Valentine’s Day announcement is getting no love from the industry’s largest owner-operator group, which argues that truckers should be able to drive the posted speed limit like everyone else.

“We think this is public relations,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “This is not about safety at all. Most accidents that involve trucks don’t take place on roads that have high speed limits. They take place in city congestion where speed is not a factor.”

Many truckers argue that not allowing big rigs to reach the same speeds as four-wheelers would create a de facto dual speed limit that would impede the flow of traffic.

“When you limit the truck speed to 68 mph, and you aren’t limiting the cars, when you get in traffic you can’t accelerate when you need to,” said Ed Guerry, a company driver for Jowin Express of Columbia, Miss.

“If you put them on cars, too, then it’s fine with me,” said Howard Carden, a company driver for Evergreen Transportation of Evergreen, Ala.

Anthony Alimia, a company driver for Tiger Transport of Dental Springs, La., drives with his governor set at 80; Dale Compher, a owner-operator leased to Dart, drives with his governor set at 60. Both men said they were against mandated governor settings, calling it unwarranted interference in the trucking industry.

ATA said it would work with truck makers and government regulators to determine the best way to implement factory-set governors and to ensure those devices are not reconfigured after trucks leave the factory. Buyers could ask that governors be set lower than 68 mph, ATA said.

Speed has been an ATA safety concern for years. For example, the group recently asked for law enforcement to crack down on speeders, both truckers and four-wheelers.

ATA and OOIDA represent different segments of the trucking industry and have long held opposite views on some issues. OOIDA’s Spencer questioned whether ATA’s working group had its facts straight about the number of trucking companies with speed-governed trucks.

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