It's almost unbelievable how fast our industry is changing thanks to modern technology, over-zealous legislators and trade groups attempting to level the playing field.  The freedom of the open road is quickly becoming a nostalgic afterthought.  They tell us when to drive, when to sleep, when to take a break and now they want to control how fast we drive.  I thought we already had speed limits? Read the American Trucking Association's (ATA) stance here.

I read both studies that the American Transportation Research Institute (ATRI) conducted on speed limiters and you can find them here.  Just type "speed" in the search box.  The studies were very thorough and concluded that there is reduction in speed relevant crashes with trucks using speed limiters.  However, I also learned some other interesting facts that ATA is not citing.
  • Companies that DID NOT have speed limiters had an overall crash rate of 9.1%
  • Companies that DID have speed limiters had an overall crash rate of 11.2%
  • Speeding trucks are not a problem in the United States

ATRI was commissioned to determine how speed limiters impact safety and they did an outstanding job as they always do.  However, there isn't much consideration on the impact to safety that would probably change if 4 million trucks are all driving the same speed.  In their study, they did identify some of the disadvantages, but no studies were conducted.  The disadvantages include:
  • Differing speed limits in individual states
  • Lack of independence could steer drivers away from industry
  • Inability to accelerate to avoid crashes (almost 2% of crashes and conflicts used this maneuver)
  • Trucks will speed on secondary routes to make up for lost time
It's impossible to conduct an accurate study of a regulation that isn't in effect yet.  That's why we don't know the full implications and new problems that an over-reaching federal government will birth with this move.  We saw that with the hours of service change that the FMCSA fully implemented in July 2013.  Now, practically all trade organizations within the industry are working to revert to the way it was.  We don't seem to learn our lessons...

Comments (3)

Joey Slaughter

Joey Slaughter is the owner of Blue Ridge Transport, LLC. Joey has been in the trucking industry since 1992.

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I've been operating with company required speed limiter for over 10 years, first set at 66 mph, then with the implementation of speed limiter laws in Quebec and Ontario, it was dropped to just below 65. Whilst I run pretty much at 60 for better fuel economy, I will step it up to pass or reduce to allow another to pass. My biggest irk is those that cause those 10 mile long elephant races, indifferent to other traffic behind them. It causes dangerous behaviour from smaller vehicle that take risks like passing on the right in a merge or acceleration lane. I'm sure we've all come across those "professionals" that refuse to give just a little to allow other to pass.

August 25, 2014 22:22:25 PM

It would be interesting to know the experience level of the companies that use speed limiters. Speed is already limited by several factors. The cost of fuel might be the biggest speed limiter. I fear the difference in speed between trucks and private vehicles more than I worry about speeding trucks.

August 23, 2014 7:05:10 AM

Great article Joey, it has some interesting information!

August 23, 2014 1:54:16 AM