Speed Demons

| May 29, 2007

Osterberg sees no correlation among speed, productivity and competitive advantage. When Schneider upped the maximum governed speed on its trucks from 55 mph to 65 mph in 1996, many in the company predicted a productivity gain. It didn’t happen, Osterberg says, due to the increased costs associated with speed, such as fuel, equipment longevity and accidents.

Should a heavier weight limit become part of the equation, the impact of speed on productivity gets more difficult to evaluate. While slower trucks are less productive, bigger trucks are more productive. Also, bigger loads and fewer trips at slower speeds would be consistent with the nation’s current fuel-efficiency and emissions-reduction priorities. Fewer truck trips also could slow the growth rate of congestion.

These heavier trucks, Jacoby says, would look no different from today’s trucks but for the sixth axle and would handle “almost identically to an 80,000-pound, five-axle vehicle. The two additional anti-lock brakes and the more even distribution of weight across six axles offset the extra weight added to the truck.”

“The only question remaining for our highway system,” Jacoby says, “is do we want an ever-increasing number of 80,000-pound trucks on the road, or do we want fewer, just as safe, 97,000-pound trucks?”


CHOOSING SIDES
In favor

American Trucking Associations
Road Safe America
Insurance Institute for Highway Safety
Governors Highway Safety Association

OPPOSED
Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association
Truckload Carriers Association
The Partnership for Safe Driving

Neutral
National Private Truck Council


OTHER PATHS TO SAFETY
Owner-operators are among those offering a myriad of alternate ways to reach the safety goals cited in the speed governor petitions. Here are four culled from comments in the public docket.

IMPROVE TRAINING STANDARDS. “Driving too fast for conditions has nothing to do with the truck and everything to do with the truck driver. Regulations will do little to help this situation compared to proper training.” – Tom J. Kuechenmeister, Brookings, S.D.

ELIMINATE DRIVER DISTRACTIONS. “Have you seen the Allstate commercial where the guy in the car is drinking his coffee, suddenly drops his cup, places both hands on the wheel and braces himself while slamming on the brakes before hitting the stopped vehicle in front of him? The announcer says, ‘Antilock brakes, airbags, etc; all the safety equipment we can place into an automobile won’t make it any more safe without the driver paying attention.’ That goes for ‘speed limiters’ also.”
- Michael Babella, Quapaw, Okla.

MANDATE ADAPTIVE CRUISE CONTROL. “If the DOT has reached the conclusion that driver attitude/behavior modification is not possible

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