Trucking Industry Asks Congress for National 65 mph Speed Limit

The American Trucking Associations today asked Congress to enact a national 65 mile per hour speed limit and govern truck speeds at 65 mph or slower to reduce fuel consumption.

Testifying on behalf of ATA before the Subcommittee on Highways and Transit of the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee, ATA First Vice Chairman Tommy Hodges also asked Congress to support national fuel economy standards for medium and heavy-duty trucks leading to lower emissions through reduced fuel consumption.

Hodges said these and other environmental initiatives suggested by the trucking industry will reduce fuel consumption by 86 billion gallons and reduce the carbon footprint of all vehicles by nearly a billion tons over the next 10 years.

“It is in our best business interest to reduce our energy consumption, improve our profitability, and reduce our levels of emissions and greenhouse gases,” said Hodges, chairman of truckload carrier Titan Transfer, Inc. based in Shelbyville, Tennessee.

“Our industry is proud of its environmental record in reducing emissions and transitioning to clean fuels,” he said.
Currently, the power to set speed limits rests with each individual state.

A National Maximum Speed Law was passed as part of the 1974 Emergency Highway Energy Conservation Act that prohibited speed limits higher than 55 mph.

The speed limit was intended to reduce gasoline consumption by 2.2 percent in response to the 1973 oil crisis, but net fuel savings were half of that, according to U.S. Department of Transportation data.

This law was modified in 1987 to allow 65 mph limits on certain roads, but the law was widely disregarded by motorists and opposed by the states. In 1995, it was repealed, returning the power of setting speed limits to the states.

Hodges told the subcommittee that if the government invests in infrastructure improvements to fix the nation’s most critical bottlenecks, the congestion that would be eliminated would save 32 billion gallons of fuel and reduce carbon emissions by 314 million tons over 10 years.

This hearing is part of the subcommittee’s effort to prepare for the five-year reauthorization of federal surface transportation programs under the Safe, Accountable, Flexible, Efficient Transportation Equity Act: A Legacy for Users, more commonly called SAFETEA-LU, which expires on September 20, 2009.

The trucking industry is also asking Congress to increase funding for the Environmental Protection Agency’s SmartWay program, a voluntary greenhouse gas reduction program designed to increase energy efficiency while reducing air pollution.

Hodges said the industry needs financial incentives in the way of tax credits or grants to expedite the introduction of idling reduction equipment across the nation.

He said that funding research and development in new technologies that will improve average fuel consumption and generate greater fuel efficiency is an important part of achieving energy independence.

The American Trucking Associations represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.
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