The American Trucking Associations last month called on federal and state motor vehicle safety officials to push for tougher enforcement on both trucks and automobiles of laws against speeding. Speaking at the International Truck and Bus Safety Symposium at the University of Tennessee, ATA President William Canary said, “Speeding is, by everyone’s account, one of the most prevalent contributing factors in traffic crashes on our nation’s highways. Knowing this, why wouldn’t we want to slow everyone down on our highways? It’s simple: safe speeds save lives.”
Canary said that in nearly 30 percent of all fatal highway crashes in 2000, drivers were either exceeding posted speed limits or driving too fast for conditions. According to federal highway safety data, speed-related crashes claimed more than 12,000 lives, he said.
To achieve the objective of reducing speeding, Canary urged increased funding and better targeting of federal safety programs, including the Highway Safety Grant program of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. The current NHTSA “Section 402” program, which encourages occupant protection devices and reduces impaired driving, is important, Canary said, but “the trucking industry is concerned that strong, visible speed enforcement for cars and trucks may not be getting the focus and attention it deserves by NHTSA.”
FMCSA Administrator Joseph Clapp, who also spoke at the safety meeting, said his agency is on the same page with Canary. “We’ve expressed to our state partners that we need an increased focus on traffic laws. We need better enforcement without risking the level of roadside inspections.
“We need to be aggressive,” Clapp continued. “We cannot afford to lose 100 people a week [in motor carrier accidents]. If we were losing 50 people a week to anthrax we’d be pulling our hair out.”
Enforcement needs to focus on simple solutions like seatbelt use, Clapp added. “If we increased seatbelt use among motorists by 10 percent we’d save 6,000 people a year. Some of those would be saved in bus and truck accidents.”