Friday, April 25, 2008

Dialing (down) for dollars

Rocker Sammy Hagar famously protested the speed limits of the ’70s and ’80s with his “I Can’t Drive 55.” Eventually, of course, those restrictions largely gave way, and we’ve enjoyed 70 and above on much of the Interstate system since.

The double-nickel feels like a crawl to anyone who’s not Amish, but with $4-plus diesel and soon gasoline, how would you feel about 65 mph (and would we call that “Doing Retirement”)?

ATA has asked the Bush administration to pull a few bucks out of their Oil Patch buddies’ wallets and mandate that speed limiters be set at 65 mph on new trucks and impose a national 65 mph speed limit.

That’s laudable, because reducing your speed to what’s optimum for your truck (or car, for that matter)can mean reducing consumption – the famous “Sweet Spot.” But reduced speed also means fewer (legal) miles in a given amount of time. So those drivers who are paid by the mile will find themselves doing some fancy algebra to decide whether it’s better to dial back or pony up more for fuel, while risking a ticket.

This article is pretty typical of reports cropping up all over the country. Embedded in there are some other scary thoughts – when time/miles = money, then people and bosses postpone or skip on maintenance. That scares, or should scare, truckers as much as it does four-wheelers who hear rumors or slanted reports about unsafe trucks and drivers.

DOT officers have often told me they look for telltale signs that a vehicle isn’t well-maintained as it comes through a weigh station: excessive rusting, burned-out or broken lights, beat-up tires, just general shabbiness. The odds are they will find a citable problem if it’s pulled around back. Bada-bing! Another hit to your Swiss-cheesed wallet.

According to the Journal-Gazette article mentioned above, some drivers are already dialing down their speeds. What about you? And what are you hearing from your customers or the companies you lease to? After all, you have to make those deliveries on time, and some might not take kindly to your explanation that you drove slower than the speed limit. Let’s hear.

2 comments:

  1. A truck should no more be limited to a lesser speed than any other vehicle on the road. Trucks are bigger than four wheelers and are made to drive slower in a great many places because of this. Is a four wheeler not bigger than a motorcycle, or an SUV not bigger than a compact car? Speed limiters do not seem like the answer to me to save money on fuel. Take some "profit" from the oil companies and such or tap into our reserve and LOWER the prices at the pump. Why does the trucker always get the short end of the stick? Big huge motor homes driven by people who are alot of times at an age that they shouldn't be driving at all does not have the rules and regulations, even if they are driving a truck, pulling a motor home, that is no different from the one the truckers are trying to make a living driving. No CDL required, no heavy highway use, no $2000 tag, but they can travel all 48 states. This makes absolutely no sense to me. I 100% agree that maintenance of ALL vehicles should be required. Seeing a truck running down the road with fenders falling off or flapping, bungee cords holding important pieces of the truck on, bald tires or even a filthy, unwashed truck is disgrace to the trucking industry. Take some pride in your ride! This is a way of life for some of us, not just a job. Fuel prices are making it harder and harder to be able to afford maintenance and upkeep. All the big wigs in Washington do not have to choose between fuel/gas and new tires. This country is going down FAST!

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  2. This is where I "t" off other drivers. But I agree that there should be a limit for the rigs out there. Not a government bs limit but a safety limit. Not just for the rigs but for all autos out there. A 16 year old driving 80 mph is no safer then la big rig driving the same speed. If it isn't an emergency vehicle then it should be limited. I'm not a anti-trucker I am a trucker. I'm also a daughter, a sister, and a mother. I want to know that when any of my family is out there they are safe. If law enforcement would be equal in their "judgment calls" and treat the four-wheeler as the responsible party when they are and it involves a rig then that would help also. It is time to take back our country. FOR THE PEOPLE. We need an option C on the ballots. C: none of the above.

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