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27 5 mph difference 10 mph difference 15 mph difference Source: Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, Highway Loss Data Institute, http://www.iihs.org/laws/speedlimits.aspx Figure 4-1. Auto/truck difference between maximum interstate speed limits, 2009. widely acknowledged limitations of the current work rules. risk, the initial safety benefits of the rule may not be as large Authority over the rules was moved from the Department of as expected, but this effect would disappear over time, as the Labor to the FRA to ensure a greater focus on safety. new staff acquires experience. Unexpected Impacts Truck Speed Limits and The rules will reduce train operator fatigue, but will likely Speed Governor Rules require that railroads hire more staff for train crews. More re- Policy Description strictive work rules will make it more likely that a fully rested train crew might be unavailable for service. In some cases, this The first speed limits were introduced in 1901 to improve could cause delays in the movement of freight or passenger roadway safety. Since then, setting speed limits has been trains during times of heavy demand. Over time, one would mostly the purview of state governments. To reduce fuel con- expect railroads to hire staff and adjust operations to reduce sumption during the energy crisis, the Emergency Highway the likelihood of this happening. Energy Conservation Act was passed in 1973, which created a Another possible response to the new rule is that railroads national speed limit of 55 miles per hour. In response to pub- may seek to reduce the number of crew required to staff a lic pressure for higher limits, Federal law was modified in train. The Rail Safety Improvement Act requires that railroads 1987 to allow speed limits as high as 65 mph. National speed adopt positive train control. When positive train control tech- limits were repealed in 1994. Although advocates of the na- nologies are fully implemented, railroads may be able to argue tional speed limit in 1973 estimated that it would reduce fuel that train crews can safely be reduced to a single person. consumption by 2.2 percent, widespread non-compliance re- Because the new rules were implemented just prior to this sulted in fuel savings that were substantially lower, between writing, it is difficult to identify any unexpected impacts at 0.5 and 1 percent.6 this time. The speed with which the bill was passed suggests Following the repeal of the national speed limit in 1994, that Congress may not have fully considered all of its poten- many states have raised speed limits to 70 or 75 mph for auto- tial effects. In addition, because the rule was implemented by mobiles and introduced differential speed limits for cars and statute, a notice and comment period and a formal RIA were trucks. These limit heavy trucks to maximum speeds that are not conducted. FRA is issuing some new rules to implement as much as 15 mph less than automobiles (see Figure 4-1). parts of the law. A related policy debate concerns mandatory speed gover- The demographics of the current railroad workforce will nors on trucks. The American Trucking Associations (ATA) require companies to hire aggressively. Retirement of a large cohort of workers will soon require significant new staff 6Steven L. Johnson and Naveen Pawar, "Cost-Benefit Evaluation of Large Truck- recruitment. The HOS rule changes will require more new Automobile Speed Limit Differentials on Rural Interstate Highways," Prepared workers beyond those needed for replacement. To the extent for the Research and Special Programs Administration, US DOT. November that new and less experienced staff constitute a higher safety 2005.