April 9, 2012 8:00 AM, EDT

Letters: FMCSA Responds, Truck Speed Limits

These Letters to the Editor appear in the April 9 print edition of Transport Topics. Click here to subscribe today.

FMCSA Responds

Regarding the March 26 editorial, “FMCSA’s Safety Blunder” (p. 8): At the U.S. Department of Transportation Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, our top priority is making our roads safer by reducing crashes, injuries and fatalities involving commercial trucks and buses.

In order to make our roads safer, FMCSA must develop a sharper picture of those carriers that are causing crashes. That is why FMCSA has been looking at options within its Compliance, Safety, Accountability (CSA) program to strengthen our ability to track carriers with a high risk for future crashes, prioritize them for safety interventions and develop a reliable process for determining crash responsibility. As part of this process, we are considering a “crash accountability” measure that would result in a more refined and fair weighting of this crash factor.

In keeping with our commitment to transparency and collaboration, I recently called a meeting of trucking industry representatives to discuss the effort. I shared that prior to finalizing a crash-weighting measure, FMCSA must address several tough issues raised during and after a meeting of our Motor Carrier Safety Advisory Committee — a diverse group of truck and bus companies, drivers, safety advocates, law enforcement, insurers and labor.

These issues include further study of the uniformity and consistency of police accident reports; a process for making final crash determinations; accepting public input; and determining the impact a crash-weighting measure would have on CSA as an effective safety tool.

FMCSA is taking this approach for one reason only — to get it done right. We understand that the issue of crash accountability is important to the entire commercial motor vehicle community. And we are listening to your concerns. Our goal is to answer the tough questions so that we can avoid crashes and save lives.

Anne S. Ferro


Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration

U.S. Department of Transportation

Washington, D.C.

Truck Speed Limits

Returning to a 65-mph national speed limit for all vehicles would wind the clock back to 1995. Any engineer or police officer with at least 30 days of experience knows the posted speed limit has almost no effect on actual travel speeds. It serves only to facilitate speed traps to turn police officers into road tax collectors, rather than officers trained to find and cite dangerous drivers.

In Michigan, under good conditions on rural freeways, the pace (a 10-mph band comprising the most vehicles) is from 66-75 mph up to 75-84 mph, depending on where you are.

Any car driver at 65 mph is far below the pace that will contain perhaps 75% of the cars and light trucks. They will have speed differential conflicts with most other cars and light trucks and will significantly degrade smooth traffic flow.

Going back to a national 65-mph limit is a terrible idea.

James Walker

Board Member and Executive Director

National Motorists Association Foundation

Waunakee, Wis.