The definition of the word “governor” is:

  1. one that governs: such as
    1. one that exercises authority especially over an area or group
    2. an official elected or appointed to act as ruler, chief executive, or nominal head of a political unit
    4. the managing director and usually the principal officer of an institution or organization
    5. a member of a group that directs or controls an institution or society
  2. : TUTOR
    1. slang:  one looked upon as governing
    2. MISTER, SIR – usually used as a term of address4.
    1. an attachment to a machine (such as a gasoline engine) for automatic control or limitation of speed
    2. a device giving automatic control (as of pressure or temperature)

There are many things in life that govern our actions, decisions, and choices we make during any given day.  We have governors who are the leaders of individual states which collectively make up our country we know as The United States of America.  But in this installment, I'd like to discuss a governor that affects many of our jobs as we travel down our nation's highways.  

The governor I would like to speak of at this time is the governor which controls our engine RPM and in the case of many company trucks, the regulation of their semi-tractors top road speed. The governor's main purpose on our diesel engine is to prevent over-speeding the engine which could cause internal parts to be over-stressed.  Simply stated, the engine governor's main purpose is to protect the engine.  

The engine governor is also able to be used to control the maximum vehicle road speed which is the subject I want to concentrate on in this particular blog.  Governors are also used on most of today's cars in order to limit the vehicle's road speed below a limit which may put certain components of the vehicle at risk.  In the automotive world, this is done by the original equipment manufacturer to protect themselves from lawsuits stemming from a driver taking the vehicle past a limit the manufacturer feels is beyond the capabilities of any given vehicle.  Gone are the days where an automobile manufacturer sticks a large engine in an automobile without adequate brakes, suspension, and handling to match the engine's capabilities.  I still remember my youthful days when I first started driving in 1979.  There were plenty of cars with extremely powerful engines.  Yet the suspension handled like a marshmallow and some of the smaller drum brakes weren't much more powerful than dragging a stick on the ground.  I think most of these controls the original equipment manufacturers put on cars were due to lawsuits.  

This is still not the governor that I want to concentrate on at this time.  The governor I am speaking of is the one that limits the road speed of most of the trucks we drive commercially today.  There was a time when the predominant speed most fleets were governed to was 65 mph or under.  Even at that time, there were many cries from safety advocate groups to have the Federal Government mandate speed limiters, which is the same thing as a governor.  There was a great outcry from many drivers that this was an overreach of control by the Government.  

Today, I am noticing a lot of fleets setting their maximum road speeds up to, and in some cases, past the 70 mph limit.  This has allowed drivers to travel more revenue-producing miles on any given day.  But with this increased freedom, there comes a level of increased responsibility.  Back when many trucks were governed to 62 mph, they did not stand out glaringly if they stayed at 62 mph in a 55 mph speed limit.  Remember, there were many people pushing for our trucks to have a mandatory speed limiter.  Today, with many of the trucks driving faster, I am beginning to observe too many of them using their newfound speed in urban and construction zones where the speed limits are significantly lower.  My worry is this behavior will renew the cry to have the Government mandate our top road speed.  Like I mentioned before, this increased freedom comes with increased responsibility.  

I plead with everyone to make it a point to slow down when the speed limit is lower than your governed road speed.  If we don't regulate our own speed in a responsible manner, we are simply giving the safety groups ammunition to have the Government revisit the speed limiter issue!  I know that many of you are saying “But the cars are driving faster than we are.”  My response to this is: We can only control ourselves as professionals.  Let's set the example.

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Henry Albert

Henry Albert is the owner of Albert Transport, Inc., based in Statesville, NC. Before participating in the "Slice of Life" program, Albert drove a 2001 Freightliner Century Class S/Tâ„¢, and will use his Cascadia for general freight and a dry van trailer. Albert, who has been a trucker since 1983, was recognized by Overdrive as its 2007 Trucker of the Year.

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December 11, 2015