Here's the story as it appeared Friday courtesy of Landline:
Naturally, there are some upset drivers out there, calling for everything from convoys of protest, to blocades of the interstates, and of course, a renewal of the ever talked about strikes of the state's truckstops as a form of protest.
All of this has been in the works for more than a year. Hamilton County, where Chattanooga is located, was the first metropolitan area to begin this action to slow vehicles in the area. 57 miles of roadway was included in the targeted area, lowering the speed limit for trucks to 55 mph, and 65 mph for all other vehicles on the affected roads. The Chattanooga/Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau was the agency that instituted the changes as a means to reduce pollution in the Chattanooga area.
In over a year since this was done, the Chattanooga/Hamilton County Air Pollution Control Bureau reported just last week the claim that this is working, although from my own personal observations, I fail to see how. Speeding is still rampant on the days I am in town, by all vehicles.
There's more to his story, and people need to be aware of what all of this is about, why it has come about, and where it is all leading.
Rumors are abounding, both in the Chattanooga area, and now in the Knoxville areas, that there are two tickets issued to drivers caught speeding in these reduced speed zones. One is your traditional speeding ticket, that nets you a fine of $100.25 in Chattanooga, plus a ticket issued by the appropriate EPA agency by mail for up to $500.00.
I have searched high and low for several hours in fact, and can find NOTHING to suggest that anyone caught will receive anything but a normal speeding ticket. However, Hamilton County and the City of Chattanooga have raised the minimum fine for speeding to $100.25 for anything under 25 mph over the speed limit. For anything over that, you get a trip to see the Judge, and he decides what the penalty is.
I see no reason to think that this will be any different in the newly established "EPA zones" in the eight county region around Knoxville. I did find that the Tri-City region, involving those cities of Kingsport, Johnson City, and Elizabethtown are set to meet this next week to follow suit to institute their own reductions in speed. Memphis and Nashville will surely follow.
Now here's where drivers need to pay attention. This is not an isolated thing happening here, nor is what I am about to tell you going to set well with some people. This situation is being monitored carefully by many jurisdictions across the nation. You see, the EPA chapters across the State of Tennessee are part of a larger group of regulators. They belong to the agency arm of the EPA, named AIRNow and they are all watching this to see the outcome. If this does indeed prove to work, look for similar reductions in speed across other states and metro areas. Tennessee was toying with taking this idea statewide last year when this started being kicked around, and they may well do it beofre it is all over.
If it truly does reduce particulate matter and ozone, look for this to be studied by the Federal EPA to be proposed on a national level.
One way or another, it appears that trucks are going to be slowed down. It only remains a question of, "under who's authority?"
Special Alert!! Tennessee EPA Speed Limits
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I am one to follow speed limits because I don't feel it is worth a blemish on my perfect 10 yr mvr to do more than the posted limit. The thing that I have noticed driving through here the past 3 weeks is everyone is still speeding. Trucks just go flying by me and they look over at me like I am an idiot. I just don't get it!!!
I have no problem with slowing trucks down. My company bills by the hour. I would be fine with running 40 MPH. I think one of the main problems with the trucking industry right now is the way drivers are paid "by the load" or "by the mile". We need to all get paid an hourly rate with overtime after 40 hours.
If we all demanded hourly pay things would change. I know the accident rate would go way down. There would be no sitting around for hours waiting to be loaded or unloaded. And the best reason for slowing trucks down and paying by the hour is it would eliminate any insentive to drive like a crazy mainiac speeding, tailgating, and cutting in and out of lanes of traffic.
This is the debate that is ongoing, but I tend to side with the EPA on this one, and this goes back to my own personal experiment, where I ran for months, NEVER in excess of 55 mph. My MPG increased by 1.5 mpg during the test period.
Thus, if the truck is burning less fuel, then it is easy to assume that the exhaust emissions are diminished as well, because there is less fuel being burned.
On the other hand, what about hills? If two trucks start ascending a hill at the bottom at 55mph, or at 65mph, who burns more fuel? I'd like to see some hard data on that question.
I'm no scientist, but even if it takes longer to get through an area with reduced speed limits, and if the truck is more fuel efficient at the lower speed, and assuming that the emissions are cleaner coming from the truck, I suppose that the air then, remains cleaner.
The practical side of me, says that trucks are not the problem to begin with. When you're being passed all day long by cars that are consistently fighting for pole position, with THEIR pedals to the floor, the exhaust coming out of the backs of those cars and light trucks is ten times worse. And because we are outnumbered ten to one, I think it would make much more sense to slow those vehicles down, if in fact, the goal was to assure air quality.
yea well, it seems like the solution to every problem out there is to screw
with the truckdrivers. seems like with each new law we take a pay cut. i
would like to slow thier office workers performance down and cap thier hours
worked at 11 a day and see how long it takes for them to cry like babies.
if these laws applied to every day jobs the economy would crumble, why didnt
i listen to my parents and get an education....
It is frustrating, isn't it?
I truly feel that there are two core reasons why trucks and truckers are targeted. Statistically, we don't vote in high numbers, and because the public doesn't really care for the way that some of these guys drive out here.
When lawmakers decide that they need an infusion of new revenue, they search for a way to raise it, without having to endure alienating likely voters that could unseat them, and it makes no matter how insignificant the office they hold may seem. From City Councilmen to the President, it's all researched, carefully planned, and implimented with as little fanfare as possible. Thus, the trucking industry is taxed to the hilt, regulated to the bone, and targeted all the time when someone needs some press to bolster their public image, as someone that is trying to make life better for their constituents.
I can remember reading articles in Tennessee papers years ago, calling for a lowering of the speed limits for trucks on a statewide basis, and when they did this right here in my backyard, under the guise of improving air quality, I actually considered the plan to be quite clever. Everyone hates the EPA, but no one who works for these divisions runs for public office. So what do they have to lose if they tick people off?
When they finish setting up these "air quality" zones around the larger cities, and the numbers are fudged to show that all of a sudden, Tennessee has this wonderfully clean air, they will then claim to have discovered a "side benefit", and, have found that the accident numbers involving trucks will have declined dramatically, and then find reason to expand it statewide. That's my prediction on all of this.
Thankfully, I don't see any concerted effort on the behalf of local law enforcement occuring to ticket trucks, and instead have found that they sporadically set up in unmarked cars to do this, at least in the Chattanooga area.
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