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November 2016

Posted By John Hausladen , Tuesday, November 1, 2016
Updated: Monday, February 6, 2017

Focused on Speed, Fuel and Sleep — The last month has seen the MTA active on key issues impacting your operations: speed limiters, biodiesel and split sleeper berth.

Speed Limiters — At its September meeting, your board of directors adopted a policy opposing any mandate of speed limiters on new Class 7 or 8 trucks. The MTA believes mandating the use of speed limiters will reduce highway safety by creating speed differentials between passenger cars and large trucks. Case in point, ANY of the speeds suggested in the proposed rule (60, 65 or 68 miles per hour) would be below Minnesota’s maximum 70 mile per hour speed limit.

We believe mandating speed via limiters would create additional highway safety risks. If all trucks are limited to the same maximum speed, they will naturally bunch together as they approach each other on roadways. Congestion would increase. These functional truck “convoys” would create challenges for all motorists trying to merge between the trucks at entrance ramps. Cars would likely engage in more risky behavior as they cut in front of trucks.

Limiters would also create a challenge for trucks attempting to pass each other, if not make it practically impossible in many situations.

The MTA believes states should establish speed limits within their jurisdictions. State engineering and traffic safety professionals have the best insight into what the appropriate speed is for any vehicle given the terrain and conditions. Nor should speed limiters replace consistent enforcement of posted speed limits among all highway users.

The MTA will be submitting formal comments to the federal docket on this proposal.

Biodiesel — On September 29, U.S. District Judge John Tunheim ruled against the Minnesota Trucking Association and four other plaintiffs, concluding that federal laws do not pre-empt Minnesota’s biodiesel mandate. To say the least, we are very disappointed in Chief Judge Tunheim’s decision.

Four other organizations joined the MTA in asking for a permanent injunction barring the state’s mandate, as well as the planned increased to 20 percent in 2018. We are reviewing the opinion and discussing our options with the other plaintiffs in this litigation. The MTA board will also review possible legislative options in the wake of this ruling.

Split Sleeper — I had the opportunity to discuss with FMCSA Administrator Scott Darling the agency’s split sleeper berth study during the recent ATA convention in Las Vegas. We talked about the importance of this study to validate the safety of split sleeper berth time and the flexibility this could provide to fleets and drivers. Mr. Jack Van Steenburg, FMCSA Chief Safety Officer, will be the featured speaker at our January Safety Conference. He will review the progress of this study and other initiatives of FMCSA.

Happy Thanksgiving — Despite all of the regulatory challenges, it is important to remember we have so much to be thankful for. Friends, family and a truly essential industry top the list. From our home to yours, here is wishing you a Happy Thanksgiving and a table full of all the holiday foods that trucking makes possible.

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