Wednesday, November 9, 2016

Artificially restrictive speed limits won’t work now either

What is the speed limiter proposal for trucks all about? The National Motorists Association thinks it might be a backdoor way to work toward another hated and counterproductive National Maximum Speed Limit (NMSL) that would reduce safety overall. If authorities could first get trucks electronically limited to 65 mph, they could then propose to set the posted speed limits for cars to the same speed.  We all know from the NMSL era of 1974 to 1995 that effective enforcement for cars at levels which actually reduce speeds to any real degree is not possible. But random enforcement blitzes and periodic speed traps are extremely profitable city/county/state budget-deficit-fixers.
Courtesy National Motorists Association
Who wins in this scenario? The big trucking firms win by reducing the competitive and safety edge held by the independent truckers and the small trucking firms. States and cities that choose to randomly ticket mostly safe car drivers for the “crime” of driving at the safest speeds near the 85th percentile speeds win, because they can enforce for big profits. The insurance industry wins for the massive insurance premium surcharges they could issue to safe drivers caught in the speed traps and enforcement blitzes.

Who loses in this scenario? The independent truckers and small trucking firms that are more efficient and safer than the big firms would lose some of their competitive edge. Car drivers would lose billions of dollars in the for-profit ticketing schemes, plus the unjustified insurance premium surcharges. Safety would lose overall; more traffic would use rural two-lane highways as the interstates would lose their legal speed advantages. The public would lose as shipping costs would go up for all of our goods that move by truck. And drivers who roughly complied with the artificially low-posted speed limits would lose some of their travel freedom by having longer trip times.

Any OOIDA or NMA members who have not submitted comments yet on the truck speed limiter proposal (NHTSA-2016-0087, FMCSA-2014-0083) should do so before the new Dec. 7 extended deadline. It is a terrible idea for all of us, truck and car drivers alike.