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4/30/2012 8:00:00 AM Write a Letter to the Editor Write a letter to the Editor

Letters: Football & Limiters, Gas Prices, Regulation

These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 30 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

Football, Limiters

It is good to see some fleets moving college football teams (“Fleets Move College Football Gear for Pride’s Sake, Executives Say,” 4-9, p. 1). These worthwhile causes can benefit from trucking companies putting our best foot forward.

Small companies like ours have been hauling high school bands around to their games — and to faraway events like the Rose Bowl Parade or Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade — for more than a decade.

Each day, the American public gets more safety and professionalism than they pay for from the American trucker.

On a more serious note, in that same issue of Transport Topics (p. 7), Rob Abbott, vice president of safety policy for American Trucking Associations, writes about the advantages of speed limiters — showing one side of a very big issue.

The statistics quoted do not accurately represent the factor of speed in crashes. As roadside accident reports are written, many factors (unsafe lane changes, an animal on road, etc.) are possible contributors to a crash. By the statistics reported in Abbott’s “Opinion” piece, driving too fast for conditions or in excess of posted limits are among the many factors that may have contributed to crashes.

We can reason through this to see that it’s possible a speed limiter wouldn’t have affected any of these accidents — for example, if the posted speed was less than the speed limiter’s setting. When truck drivers are forced to operate below the posted limit on safe roads and in good conditions, time pressures will inspire them to drive faster on the kinds of highways on which they y would otherwise choose to drive more slowly.

Here in Texas, we allow 80 mph in some cases, and trucks running slower than that become obstacles for the rest of the traffic.

Nationwide, we have had increasing speed limits over the past decades, and yet trucks have never been safer. So why push for a government mandate to slow down trucks when that isn’t even a meaningful issue?

Maybe ATA’s member carriers will open up their accident data for comparison with carriers that don’t use limiters set at speeds below speed limits.

The purported net economic gain of lower speeds makes sense only when no value is placed on a driver’s time. When we slow the trucks down, driver pay falls. I would hope that companies and organizations that support speed limiters would enact preemptive driver pay raises to prevent pay cuts. Or better yet, institute hourly pay for these drivers.

Danny Schnautz

Operations Manager

Clark Freight Lines

Pasadena, Texas

I recently read the “Opinion” article concerning the mandating of speed limiters (4-9, p. 7). This is a good idea to a degree, but the speed at which these would be set is the problem. Having been a tractor-trailer driver for more than 38 years and a driver trainer for 20 years (including as a third-party CDL examiner) I do have some opinions on this.

First, as you know, there are vast inconsistencies in truck speed limits throughout the United States. Florida allows 70 mph, while Kansas is 75 mph — and it varies in Texas, depending on the road. Also, many of the northeastern states have much lower speed limits because of congestion there.

So, with this in mind, what do you set the speed limiter at? 65 mph? 55 mph? What would be fair for use in all the states?

From a driver’s perspective — and having driven a rental tractor that was governed to 65 mph in Florida — I would say that using 65 mph would be a terrible mistake. From the time I entered the interstate until I exited, I had to drive with my right foot planted on the floor, running at the top governed speed. Considering that I was doing a very long trip, and that I don’t like using cruise control, this was very tiring and very unsafe.

I don’t know the author’s background, but I must ask if he knows what you are supposed to do to handle a blowout on a tractor-trailer. The first action is to depress the accelerator — but if you are running at the top of the governor, you have no power in reserve to perform this action and probably will fall victim to the blowout.

This also means that, if you need power in any other emergency situation, you won’t have it.

So again, what is the speed that these limiters should be set at? It is understood that it is fuel-efficient to run at slower speeds; that is a fact. Personally, I could support a speed limiter if it were mandated at 70 mph.

I understand that a number of states’ speed limits are lower than that, but the emergency power and fatigue from running with your foot on the floor are critical factors in allowing it to be set at this level. To set the limiter at 65 mph would be a mistake for the industry and give the midnight mechanics a lot more business in “readjusting” the computer/governor settings. 

If you just ask for speed limiters without input from those of us who are on the highways operating this equipment, then the Department of Transportation or Congress will mandate something in Washington that won’t be good for the drivers or the industry!

I hope you give this some serious consideration.

John DiGregorio

Driver Trainer

Port Orange, Fla.

Gas Prices Down?

I just read the story, “Gasoline Falls for First Time This Year, Lundberg Survey Says” (TTNews.com, 4-23), and I cannot agree with the statement, as gas prices have not fallen in Albuquerque, N.M. They are still staying steady at $3.72 a gallon for regular.

Whenever it is stated that gas prices are supposed to go down, they hardly ever do. When they do go down, it’s by 2 cents or less at a time.

It is extremely frustrating.

Tara (last name withheld by request)

Freight Claims Analyst

Albuquerque, N.M.

Editor’s Note: National surveys such as Lundberg’s and the U.S. Department of Energy survey Transport Topics uses for our weekly fuel price charts are averages created by combining figures from all over the country. To get a better idea of how regional fuel prices move — or don’t move — check out the chart on p. 30 of this issue, or you can visit www.ttnews.com and click on “Fuel Prices” (left-side navigation bar on website) for an even more detailed look at diesel and gasoline prices present and past.

Regulation

I am 66 years old, and I have been in transportation as an owner-operator, in administration, recruitment and safety and as a driver supervisor. I’ve been a vice president with Transmarke Express and Trans-Con Freight Lines. 

I own J&J Truck Service Co., a general commodities company leased to a large contract carrier. I have owned a lot of good used trucks and have bought many new trucks in my time.

I also have been lied to, [mistreated] and abused, as all of us have been, by government regulations.

I do not understand why not everyone sees that what is happening to our industry in the name of safety has nothing to do with safety.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Compliance, Safety, Accountability program is like pouring gasoline on the fire. It has totally destroyed our ability to hire good drivers. The rules do not make sense.

In addition, the new Environmental Protection Agency requirements for truck engines are unaffordable to the industry. The new trucks run hotter and get less fuel mileage, and when they kick a code on the road, you are liable to a wrecker service.

No one is talking about the real problem: Why do we let a government that is unaccountable for anything tell us what to do?

Larry Jackson

Owner

J&J Truck Service Co.

Waxahachie, Texas



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