Arkansas Trucking Association

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Up Front- How We Say It

SHANNON NEWTON ATA PRESIDENTShannon Newton
President, ATA

We Americans love our freedom. An inalienable right, it is baked into our national identity. We are emotionally attached to making our own decisions, being our own bosses, ruling our own domains. Even when it’s not in our best interest, we cling to freedoms like eating too much or driving too fast.

So it should come as no surprise that many in the trucking industry are squirming after reading the recent proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to equip heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on U.S. roadways and require those devices be set to a maximum speed.

Safety is the cornerstone that allows our industry to prosper. Unsafe behaviors or policies raise the risks on the roads that our families travel, they cost our industry time and money, and they endanger our most scarce, costly and valuable resource—our employees. So the notion that the trucking industry is anything other than an advocate for safe driving and roadways is baseless.

However, that notion is one we must be constantly vigilant against when opposing regulations that make us uncomfortable. Anti-trucking groups masquerading as safety advocates are always looking for ways to paint our legislative and regulatory agenda as anything but beneficial for public safety.

They are watching, waiting. How will we as an industry respond to the irresponsible, data-lacking, incomplete, division-seeking, last minute rule dropped in the lap of trucking as the Obama administration is packing up their boxes?

Our response is critical. What we say is important, but how we say it could have even greater implications. WE are pro-safety. WE support national speed-limiters. WE support a national speed limit. WE support data-driven policies. WE support uniform enforcement. And we have, for the last decade. Any response that falls short of these fundamentals leaves us vulnerable.

The rule, as proposed, is lacking all of the above. It doesn’t recommend one speed limit to be enforced on every stretch of highway, but three options that appeal differently to industry segments and regional operators. It doesn’t have data demonstrating the safety benefits of any of the options if applied uniformly. It doesn’t address the speed differentials that would exist for trucks and the speed laws of multiple states – allowing passenger vehicles to travel at much higher speeds than commercial trucks, elevating the risk for increased accidents.

We are all familiar with the adage that it’s not what you say, but how you say it.

There is no environment where this is more true than in politics, advocacy.

It’s imperative that when opposing this flawed rule, we advocate, as we always have, for safety. This is not about our emotional attachment to freedom. Instead, let us speak with one educated voice for the safety of our industry and our loved ones alongside us.

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Arkansas Trucking Association
PO Box 3476 (72203)
1401 West Capitol Ave.
Little Rock, AR 72201

(501) 372-3462 | Phone
(501) 376-1810 | Fax

Our Mission

  • PROTECT the collective interests of trucking companies in the political and regulatory arenas.
  • PROMOTE the dynamics of trucking so that people have a better understanding of the link between America's primary freight delivery system and the standard of living they enjoy.
  • SERVE our members to help them to grow their business and their profits
You are here: Home Article Archive Up Front- How We Say It