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Speed Limiter Proposal for Big Rigs Awaiting Government Approval

Speed Limiter Proposal for Big Rigs Awaiting Government Approval

If the Department of Transportation (DOT) has their way, all trucks weighing 27,000 pounds or more will be required to have governors (speed limiters) installed. The proposal was created in a joint effort by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) in response to a petition created by the Roadsafe America and the American Trucking Associations (ATA).

“Slowing down traffic is the most important step toward improving highway safety,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said. “For this reason, ATA’s policy calls for a national 65 mph speed limit for all vehicles and ATA’s broad safety agenda calls for a speed limiter mandate. The proposal is now sitting on the desk of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House undergoing an unexpected extended period of review for a final decision if it will become a law.

Safety advocates, such as the ATA and the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), who support the proposal refer to a study done by the Trucker Report, which demonstrates that trucks with governors installed saw a 50% reduction in accidents where speed played a factor versus those that drive without a limiter. The report collected data from 20 fleets with a total of about 138,000 trucks, covering 15,000 accidents in all. Of those accidents, about 15% were considered related to speed limiters.

According to the data, trucks without governors had an overall rate of 16.4 crashes per 100 trucks per year while those with limiters were 11 crashes per 100 trucks per year. “Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active speed limiter,” the report stated. Supporters estimate that if the rule becomes law and trucks are forced to slow down, about 1,000 crashes involving tractor-trailers could be prevented. It is estimated that anywhere from 60 to 80% of fleets already use speed limiters.

“This study confirms what ATA has been saying for years – speed kills and one of the most effective ways to prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of crashes on our highways is to slow all vehicles down, including large trucks,” Graves said about the study.

But many of those in the trucking industry are not exactly thrilled about the rule, especially drivers. Trucking companies and their workers are worried about the slow down and how much time will be lost. There could be a significant delay in getting shipments to their final destinations, leading to higher cost and overall reduced profits. Others claim that truckers will use devices or find other way to cheat the system and dismantle the governors.

The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has already gone one step further, suggesting that passenger vehicles and well as commercial trucks should travel at a uniform speed to maximize safety. Todd Spender, the group’s Executive Vice President, wrote in a letter to the FMCSA and NHTSA, ” OOIDA writes to ensure that you and [the Office of Management and Budget] understand that when cars and trucks operate at different speeds on the highway, there is a significant negative impact on safety… Traffic is more dynamic and less predictable. Accidents increase. Your agencies must ensure you do not produce a mandate that will arbitrarily add dangerous car-truck speed differentials to our nation’s highways.”

Regarding the proposal, the NHTSA said, “We believe this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set. This rule would decrease the estimated 8,991 fatalities caused by crashes involving heavy trucks and buses. It would also increase the fleet fuel efficiency of these vehicles.”The rule is expected to go into effect two years after it is published, if approved.

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