As part of an effort to improve the image of trucking, Diehl and State Sen. David Hoyle want to lower to 65 mph the speed limit for trucks on the fastest stretches of Interstates 40 and 85 where the speed limit is 70 mph.
At the request of NCTA, Hoyle introduced a bill in the State Senate that would cap a truck's speed limit at 65 mph.
According to the Durham, N.C., Herald-Sun, Diehl said that he understands split speed limits can be dangerous, but said the overriding concern should be that an 80,000-pound vehicle should not go more than 65 mph. "It just takes trucks so much longer to stop when they are fully loaded. The member companies don't want it any faster," he told the paper. Slower speeds also save on diesel fuel.
In 1999, trucks made up 3 percent of all registered vehicles but were involved in 13 percent of all traffic fatalities. National statistics show fatalities involving trucks reaching a high in the late 1990s not seen in a decade and up from a 1992 low. In 1999, the latest year the national truck statistics are available, the number of truck-related traffic fatalities was about 5,000.
Diehl said that truck fatality numbers feed trucking’s negative image, despite the deceptive nature of statistics. Capping truck speeds at 65 mph will keep down the number of deaths, regardless of who is at fault, he said. "One reason the trucking association is so interested in this bill is that no matter how many safety programs we have in the association, any time there's an accident involving a truck, it makes the whole industry look bad."