LAS VEGAS. Even as the American Trucking Associations (ATA) named Kevin Burch, president of Jet Express Inc., its 72nd chairman here at its annual convention, the trade group’s chief executive wasted no time teeing up the recently-announced speed limiter rule for heavy trucks as a major near-term policy focus.
“We’ve had robust discussions on any number of [policy] fronts,” Christ Spear, ATA’s president and CEO told reporters in a short press gathering following Burch’s election. ”But in my opinion, this rule as dangerous as proposed.”
Spear stressed he had no qualms with regulatory proposals aimed at lowering the highway speed of tractor-trailers. In fact, that’s been a policy initiative of the ATA for some time.
Instead, he takes issue with the “safety risk” associated with a rule that proposed three different speeds and no national speed “cap” for tractor-trailers operating on U.S. highways, as opposed to a single common speed for all tractor-trailers with a single “cap” for national speed limits across the country.
“In my humble opinion, we think this is flawed,” Spear said. “We cannot afford to elevate risk to the motoring public [for] this [speed limiter] rule does not even take the danger of differential speeds for cars and trucks into account.”
He added that no data or studies are being presented to justify the “three speed limits” proposed under the rule as well. “We also find it rather curious that the administration wasted nearly eight years to put forth this proposal.”
Meanwhile, Burch told reporters he hopes to focus his tenure as ATA’s chairman on “telling trucking’s story,” especially that of the industry’s drivers.
“We need to do a better job telling it to the motoring public as well as to state and local officials,” he said. “We are a 7 million strong industry with a good safety record. This is an industry filled with wonderful, dedicated professionals – from drivers and dispatchers to salesmen and executives. So I’m going to be telling that story every time, all the time.”
“Kevin has been one of our association’s most vocal and passionate advocates,” noted Spear in a prepared statement. “His enthusiasm for trucking and for improving its image is infectious and will serve him and ATA well as chairman.”
Burch - president of Jet Express since 1990 and a commercial driver’s license holder since 2008 – replaces outgoing ATA Chairman Pat Thomas, who is senior vice president for state government affairs at UPS.