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Lobbyist Money Help  

Speed Means Money for Truckers

February 21, 1996
By: Dana Coleman
State Capital Bureau

JEFFERSON CITY - Truckers would enjoy not just a faster drive if Missouri's legislature allows highway speeds to rise. For some truckers, it would mean bigger paychecks too.

"There is an economic incentive for truckers that get paid by the mile. Simple mathematics tells you that much," said George Burruss, president of the Missouri Motor Carriers Association.

Truckers legally can drive for only 10 hours straight, then they have to get off the road for 10 hours, said Steve Waters of Missouri's Transportation Division.

Currently, truckers can drive 55 mph, which means theoretically, they can travel 550 miles during a shift. But at 70 mph, they would be able to travel 700 miles per shift, making more money.

But not every trucker will has a pocket-book stake in this issue.

Truckers who work for big union companies, such as Yellow Freight, probably won't benefit because they are paid by the hour. Even though the law may allow truckers to drive 70 mph, the company policies won't.

"We will set our governors at 65 mph," said corporate communications manager for Yellow Freight, Dana Eisely.

A governor is a device installed in the trucks engine that sets a maximum speed that the truck physically cannot exceed, said Eric Doane, terminal manager of Roadway's Columbia terminal.

Studies show that fuel consumption is no longer economical for a truck when it drives higher than 65 miles per hour, said Eisely. Also, driving faster would put more wear and tear on the equipment, raising maintenance.

"It is not safe for truckers to drive more than 65 mph," Eisely said.

Safety and other factors such as condition of terrain play a role in determining whether or not the truckers that are not limited by governors will drive faster than 65, Burruss said.

"But I don't even know if our trucks can go that fast," laughed John Schellman, referring to equipment limitations on some older trucks. Schellman is the Columbia terminal manager at Beaufort Transfer Company.

Although truckers at big companies wouldn't be affected because they wouldn't be permitted to speed, some smaller trucking companies have a different take on the issue.

"It won't affect us because we already go that fast anyway," chuckled Frank Potter of Potter Trucking in Boonville.