Prospects for a national highway safety program are looking dimmer by the day. Even truckers can't agree on what constitutes a safe speed for big rigs.
In one corner is the American Trucking Associations (ATA), the nation's largest and best-known motor carrier trade organization. The ATA has endorsed an initiative to limit big trucks to a maximum speed of 68 miles per hour. "There has been a growing sense within the trucking industry for the need to slow down the large truck population as well as all traffic," says ATA President Bill Graves. "With speeding as a factor in one-third of all fatal highway crashes, it makes all the sense in the world to work to reduce this number."
In the other corner is the Owner-Operator Independent Driver's Association (OOIDA). The OOIDA argues that limiting trucks to 68 miles per hour actually makes roadways more hazardous because it creates speed differentials between trucks and all other vehicles. "It may sound like a good thing to some to slow down all the big trucks," says Todd Spencer, OOIDA's executive vice president. "But unless you slow down all the other vehicles too, you've really only made things more dangerous."