Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Trucking Industry Divided Over Speed Limiters

A proposal requiring truckers to make use of devices that limit their speeds to no faster than 68 mph has caused a split within the trucking industry.

Nine large trucking companies including Lowell-based J.B. Hunt Transport Services Inc., have asked government agencies to force the use of speed limiters -- often referred to as a governor -- in virtually all commercial tractor-trailers.

Along with the American Trucking Associations, the companies last October joined with Road Safe America, a safety advocacy group, in filing a petition with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

A similar petition was submitted to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.


Driving drivers away in droves

Training is required before drivers can take to the road. Jennifer Rogers of Overland Park practices parking a tractor-trailer at a Kansas driving school.

Current estimates are that the U.S. is shy 20,000 long-haul drivers.

A recent industry study said the shortage could rise to 111,000 drivers by 2014.

Despite demand, wages have stagnated, and turnover in the industry is running more than 100 percent. Potential drivers have migrated to construction jobs, where the pay has been better and they don’t have to be constantly away from home.

Even as the industry struggles with the shortage, talking about higher pay and attracting immigrant drivers, trucking officials say it is everyone’s problem. Trucking moves more than 70 percent of the freight in this country, making it an essential link between the consumers and the things they want and need. At some point the shortage will mean delivery delays and higher prices for consumers. Continued......