OOIDA digs in heels over speed limiters

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GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. – The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has written a letter to two federal agencies, condemning the American Trucking Associations’ proposal to mandate the use of speed limiters on trucks operating in the US.

In a letter to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), OOIDA president Jim Johnston said limiting trucks to 68 mph would have a negative impact on highway safety.

“Operating a truck at or above 68 mph can be appropriate, safe and legal,” in some circumstances, Johnston pointed out in his letter. He noted 30 states have maximum speed limits of 70 mph or higher.

The letter was in response to an ATA petition that seeks to require OEMs to activate speed limiters on all new trucks. It also filed a petition calling on government to make it illegal to tamper with the devices.

Johnston outlined concerns that greater speed variances between trucks and passenger cars would negatively impact road safety. He also argued that “travelling too fast for conditions” is the real cause of most truck crashes, not simply driving above 68 mph.

“Road design, traffic congestion, and weather can render any rate of speed excessive and unsafe. None of the studies cited by ATA identify 68 mph as the tipping point between safe and unsafe speeds,” Johnston wrote. OOIDA contends that lack of training and poor compensation are the causes of most truck crashes. The lobby group also accused the ATA of endorsing the mandatory use of speed limiters strictly for competitive reasons.

“In announcing this petition,” Johnston wrote, “ATA officials admitted that one purpose of the petition was to reduce the economic advantage of those motor carriers who have chosen not to adopt speed governors over its members who have.”

OOIDA suggested the government spend its time and resources pursuing “more concrete solutions to truck safety issues.”

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