Truck speed governing gains momentum

Truck speed governing gains momentum

Trucking interests in Canada are building their case in favor of making the use of speed limiters, or governors, mandatory throughout North America

Trucking interests in Canada are building their case in favor of making the use of speed limiters, or governors, mandatory for heavy trucks throughout North America. The Ontario Trucking Assn. (OTA) said it will meet with stakeholders to finalize the details of this policy push by as early as this fall.

“We’d like to have as broad a program as possible,” David Bradley, OTA president told Fleet Owner. “Ideally we’d like to have a harmonized North American program. However, whether that is viable or feasible remains to be seen.

“When we develop a comprehensive policy we would then refer it to Canadian Trucking Alliance and the American Trucking Assns. (ATA) and hopefully build a coalition of support,” Bradley continued.

Don Osterberg, Schneider National vp of safety and driver training who also serves on an ATA subcommittee, told Fleet Owner that the proposal for mandating governors has had momentum within ATA. But he said the lobbying group has yet to take an official position on the issue.

“Schneider along with seven other carriers sent a memo to FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) Administrator Annette Sandberg stated that a maximum governed speed for Class 8 trucks would be good,” Osterberg said. “We put it in the agenda to be discussed with ATA. I expect probably within the year ATA will come forward with a position in this subject.”

Aside from the safety and fuel-savings such a policy would promote, it would also eliminate a competitive hurdle which carriers that choose to use governors contend with, Osterberg continued. “There is a need to level the playing field so that safe and legitimate carrier is even with people that would push the envelope. Some carriers would create a value proposition based on their ability to do thing that other carriers would think its unsafe to do.”

“There’s value in the proposal and warrants further analysis on the benefits this would yield.” Bruce Richards, president of Private Motor Truck Council of Canada (PMTCC), told Fleet Owner, adding that he believes the majority of PMTCC membership use governors anyway. “From a trucking industry perspective alone, harmonization is good. It’s good to know one set of rules. If we all got onboard throughout North America truck speeding wouldn’t be so much an issue.”

“Speeding trucks, and trucks that sit in passing lanes, should no longer be tolerated,” said OTA chairman Scott Smith. “We’ll talk to carriers, truck drivers, government, police and motorists to answer questions like what speed trucks should be limited to, how to avoid tampering, how to deal with the fact that there are 60 jurisdictions in North America. But we are of the strong view that mandatory speed limitations for trucks is long overdue.”

Last month OTA began a study in Europe to compare speed limit compliance and “lane discipline,” a highway practice which dictates slower vehicles remain in the right lane while only passing vehicles occupy the left lane, there with that of North America. Maximum truck speeds in the European Union have been controlled by the mandatory use of governors, and according to OTA, the system has been working well.

Todd Spencer, executive vp of the Owner Operator Independent Driver Assn., does not support the mandated use of governors. “Speed governors are really a placebo to indicate that maybe you don’t have the best people behind the wheel. [Owner operators] are paid piece work; they are paid by the mile and to turn around and tell them to work slow defies common logic for them. The speed governor that counts is the quality of the person behind the wheel-- that’s the key to safety. You could wreck a truck at 30 mph.”

An industry that encourages safe drivers would be more effective than mandating speed limits, Spencer continued. “I don’t put much stock in the notion that governors level the competitive playing field. Every one of those trucks can [go over a posted speed limit] now.”

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