The American Trucking Assns. (ATA) rolled out an 18-point highway safety agenda this week that encompasses a wide variety of initiatives – everything from recommending a national 65 mph speed limit to mandating electronic speed controls for all commercial truck models built since 1992.
“While the trucking industry is now the safest it has been since the U.S. Dept. of Transportation began keeping crash statistics in 1975, we must continue to further the trend,” said Gov. Bill Graves, ATA’s president and CEO, at a press conference on Capitol Hill. “Our 18 progressive safety policies will advance highway safety for all highway users by improving driver performance, creating safer vehicles and improving motor carrier performance.”
The effort received praise from many quarters, including former government officials and the insurance industry
“I believe [this agenda] is a good platform as we move into the next highway authorization process,” said John Hill, the former chief administrator of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). “The cause of 88% percent of all crashes involves a driver, whether they are a passenger vehicle or commercial driver. The strategies today specifically address driver deficiency areas and give drivers tool they need to improve highway safety.”
“We support many of the key recommendations in the ATA safety agenda, including graduated licensing for young drivers, primary safety belt enforcement laws, speed enforcement, red light running cameras, tough anti-drunk driving laws, safer vehicle designs and effective driver licensing and supervision,” said David Snyder, vp and associate general counsel of public policy for the American Insurance Assn. “If enacted, ATA’s measures will reduce fatalities, injuries and economic costs for everyone sharing our highways.”
Not everyone in trucking is hailing this effort, however. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), for one, is taking issue with the ATA’s call to mandate speed limiters on commercial trucks manufactured after 1992 so they’ll be restricted to 65 mph.
“Truck drivers need access to that power to keep up with the speed of traffic and to be able to maneuver around dangerous situations,” said Todd Spencer, OOIDA’s executive vp. “We already have speed limits in this country, so we should instead enforce those laws more effectively.”
He added that large trucking companies speed limit their trucks because it is one way to manage a fleet. “But when driving your own truck, like the majority of the trucking industry, you are perfectly aware of what you are doing and have your own incentives to drive safely and efficiently,” Spencer stressed.