Though the public comment period on the truck speed limiter proposal closes today, many fleets have been limiting their vehicle speeds for years for both safety and fuel economy reasons. Schneider is one of them. And the carrier said it believes it has found its sweet spot.
Schneider recently announced it has upped its maximum cruise control speed to 63 mph from 60 mph on all solo van truckload, tanker and dedicated tractors equipped with collision mitigation technology. According to the company, top pedal speed will remain at 63 mph. The speed change takes effect after Jan. 1.
Rob Reich, senior vice president of equipment, maintenance and driver recruiting, told Fleet Owner Schneider made the change based on driver feedback, after spec’ing equipment for safety, and performing fuel efficiency analyses.
“We’ve definitely heard driver feedback that they prefer to go a little faster,” Reich explained. “We had faster speed limits in the past and we changed back because of fuel costs. We heard from drivers that they would like to be able to manage their day a little better. We feel it’s the safe spot because it’s a safe speed to drive and a fuel efficient way to drive. It allows drivers to be more productive and manage their time better.”
In a recent blog post updating drivers of the change, Reich explained Schneider has had a speed stance ranging from 55 to 65 mph depending on a variety of factors, including safety, miles per gallon, fuel cost, driver time, customer demands, regulatory standards, and equipment specs. He told Fleet Owner that only vehicles equipped with collision mitigation and other safety technologies will be eligible for the 63 mph speed. Intermodal tractors, however, will not be updated since the company stated it has found that intermodal drivers spend fewer work hours driving and fewer of their driving hours at highway speeds.
Last month, the Dept. of Transportation issued a 30-day extension to file comments on the federal truck speed limiter proposal. While the 118-page proposal suggests that speed limits of 60, 65 or 68 mph would be beneficial, government agencies have stated they will gather public input before setting the actual number. The speed limit would be managed by a governing device and would apply to all newly-manufactured vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 lbs.
Tim Hindes, CEO of Stay Metrics, explained that from what he has seen, 63-65 mph is the norm among the carriers his firm serves. According to Stay Metrics data, 154 drivers out of 9,309 drivers surveyed cited speed limiters as an issue within their first 45 days of employment. Out of those 154 drivers, 69 reported leaving because of speed limiters.
Hindes explained that though it’s not an issue that comes up often at his firm, that group of drivers that does complain at the 45-day mark of their employment are 10-12% more likely to leave that carrier.
“When you compile that 3-5 mile-per-hour difference – where some drivers are not able to pass, to be as efficient, and miss dollars and miles per day – then you have to look at their frustrations,” Hindes said. “It now becomes an income situation and strategy to raise [driver] income.”
“I think for the most part carriers are trying to stay in the market,” he added. “They’re also getting feedback from their insurance companies.”
Overall, Reich said he hopes drivers at Schneider can now manage their time better knowing they can go a little faster, potentially make more money, and better serve their customers.
“I think it puts us closer to a lot of what other fleets do,” Reich said. “We are letting the drivers know we heard their feedback and are assessing this. I think that’s always good for current associates and drivers talking to us.”