Struggling with record diesel prices, the trucking industry's main trade group introduced a plan Thursday to reduce fuel consumption and emissions over the next decade mainly by having its members slow down.
The American Trucking Assns., whose members include FedEx Corp., UPS Inc. and Con-way Inc., says adherence to a handful of new proposals could cut fuel consumption by 86 billion gallons and carbon dioxide emissions by 900 million tons for all vehicles over the next 10 years.
The recommendations are:
* Limit the speed new trucks can travel to no more than 68 mph and reduce the national speed limit to 65 mph for all vehicles.
* Reduce engine idling.
* Ease congestion by improving the nation's highways, through a fuels tax increase if necessary.
* Support national fuel economy standards for trucks.
Congress repealed the national speed limit law in 1995, and 32 states now have limits of 70 mph or higher on some parts of their highways, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. But the ATA has yet to find a federal lawmaker to champion its cause of reducing the national limit.
"Our proposals are practical, reasonable, and doable," said Bill Graves, ATA's president and chief executive. "But there's no doubt that today's skyrocketing diesel prices give us an added incentive to roll it out across the industry, and for Congress to provide the support the program needs."
Truck drivers haul 70% of all freight in the U.S.
The ATA has said it now costs more than $1,000 to fill a typical tractor-trailer, and that the nation's 3.5 million truck drivers are on pace to spend a record $135 billion on diesel fuel this year, up $22 billion from 2007.