Government Moves To Slow Trucks Down

If the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has its way, big rigs will soon be traveling a little slower on our nation's highways.

Late last month, the DOT issued a proposal requiring all trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a predetermined maximum speed. What that speed might be has yet to be determined, but suggestions have ranged between 60 and 68 miles per hour. If the proposal passes, it will likely have a three-year implementation period; still, by 2020, over-the-road commerce may be moving a bit slower.

Understandably, there are arguments and organizations both for and against the proposal.

Who Is For It and Why

The American Trucking Association and the Trucking Alliance have both come out in favor of the proposal. This is what they say:

  • It will make the highways safer. There are over 500,000 accidents involving trucks each year, resulting in more than 5,000 fatalities. Proponents say that reducing truck speed by just a small amount would significantly decrease the number of collisions. (North Carolina ranks among the states with the highest number of truck accidents.)
  • It will save on fuel. Reducing truck speed will save up to $1 billion in fuel costs annually.
  • It will improve equipment lifespan. High speeds create more wear and tear on trucks, and reduced speeds will extend equipment life.
  • Truck tires are not designed for speeds over 75 mph. Exceeding this speed causes tires to fail and blow out, causing serious danger for both the truck and nearby vehicles.

Who Is Against It and Why

The Owner-Operator Independent Owners Association (OOIDA) is opposed to the proposal, stating that speed limitations would actually make highways more dangerous.

"Highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed," observed OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. Often, the safest way out of a potentially dangerous situation on the road is to accelerate and put the danger in the rear-view mirror. Restricting speed is taking control out of the hands of the driver, which makes things less safe, not more.

Time Will Tell

After the proposal is published in the Federal Register, the DOT will entertain public input and comments for 60 days before a final decision is made.

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