Once again, FMCSA has a solution searching for a problem.  Their quest to limit the speed on all trucks doesn't even begin to make sense when crash data is examined from the large fleets.  I can only deduct that they are bowing to pressure from the ATA (American Trucking Association).

This past week, I spent all of my time in a 65 mph governed truck as I was staging equipment for the Mid America Truck Show.  My usual truck will go as fast as any, but I usually keep it around 62 mph for fuel mileage reasons.  However, I had a fleet spec'd truck and I drove it just like everyone else; maxed out at 65, but only when the speed limit allowed it of course.

Here are my observations while operating at 65 mph (most of this was in a 70 mph zone)

  • Only a slight difference in governed speeds; most around 65 and the rest were just a tad below
  • This led to 65 mph trucks passing the 64 mph trucks
  • This led to long lines in the left lane as these "passes" took several minute and miles
  • This led to road rage for many of the "four wheelers" who were held up in the line of traffic
  • This led to cars passing on the right and darting in front of the passing truck with inches to spare

Other points to consider:

 

  • Getting over for merging traffic entering the interstate means getting in the left lane and starting the drama over again. So, trucks are less likely to get over for cars if it means being stuck in left lane and going through the above steps again.
  • Sure, a 64 mph truck could slow down and let the 65 mph truck get by, but why would he?  He's doing nothing wrong and if he keeps letting that happen, the 64 mph truck will eventually get boxed in. 
  • These speed limiters keep trucks almost in a line, creating somewhat of a convoy that really becomes dangerous to the motoring public as they try to enter and exit the interstate.

My Opinion:

 

  • Don't make governed trucks mandatory
  • Speeding trucks aren't a problem
  • Let police enforce speed limits
  • Speed Limiters are being pushed by lobbying organizations to level playing field; not about safety

Interesting Data from OOIDA:

  • A sample of the larger carriers showed that Speed Limited carriers had more crashes per power unit and per driver than the non-speed limited carriers.
  • The data tells us that speed limiters do nothing to significantly reduce crashes

A Final Word:

I don't believe a new study is needed to make the right decision.  However, if I can't convince the FMCSA to drop their plans to pursue this harmful regulation, I would request a study on the effects and unintended consequences of all trucks driving at the same speed. 

Thanks to Jim Allen at TruckStockImages.com for the use of the photo.

Comments (8)

Joey Slaughter

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

Ask Joey a question

Read These Next...

BUSINESS Smart

LIVE Smart

72-Hour Vacation

June 06, 2018

LIVE Smart

Drug Screening

May 04, 2016

Comment ()


What is it they say about doing the same thing expecting different results?

April 25, 2016 20:22:02 PM

Enforcement is done at weigh stations and random DOT inspections; they plug a speed reader device into your engine to verify that the governor is properly set. This has caused some controversy over who is responsible for any damage that may be done to the engine by a faulty or improperly used reader as they are not OEM certified. That said, I myself have never been subjected to a speed governor check as my company already had a mandatory 65 setting.

April 10, 2015 7:01:02 AM

Darren, it's great to hear the Canadian perspective as it sounds just like my experience. How does Ontario and Quebec ensure that all the trucks are governed?

April 10, 2015 5:49:57 AM

Speed limiters set to 105 kph/65mph are required in both Quebec and Ontario and I can attest that it creates a lot of aggravation on the part of both truck and car drivers. As you said above, trucks passing at speeds of less than 1mph difference (elephant races we call them) are very common and lines of traffic backed up for a mile or more is the norm. I too travel at a reduced speed of 60mph for fuel economy but differences in weight vs terrain sometimes has me pulling out to pass slower trucks. If the other truck gains speed, I'm left hanging out in the right lane with traffic attempting to pass me on the right, a very dangerous situation, especially when they change in front of me with just inches to spare. Oft times I've stepped it down to pass as quickly as possible, gain some space and then return to the right lane. The limiter law mixed with a high volume of speed limited trucks vs cars on two lane highways creates a lot of peeved off people.

April 09, 2015 19:52:08 PM

Thanks Allen. Great point about how government and some lobbying groups can push so much stuff through when it's done in the name of "safety". I've seen this before in other ways like, "we're doing this for the children" or "we must invest" which means a huge tax hike is coming.

March 27, 2015 20:26:32 PM

Not in favor at all of speed limiters and you are right, it's not about safety, but gets support "in the name of safety" Tag safety on whatever you want, create a one sided story, and there you go. UNLESS, people make noise and create awareness to the truth about this and similar issues. this is how it will continue to go on.
Excellent post and must be shared.

March 26, 2015 9:30:46 AM

I think so too Jeff. That's precisely why FMCSA should focus on driver entry training requirements and not so much on speed limiters.

March 26, 2015 6:03:30 AM

I am definitely not in favor of speed limiters either. Individual states are raising speed limits. To me large variances in speed can be a problem. Cars could be running legally 20 mph faster than trucks, that is dangerous. To be fair though, I think the higher accident rates in speed limited trucks are caused by less experienced drivers.

March 25, 2015 3:11:15 AM