Fleetowner Com Sites Fleetowner com Files Uploads 2017 01 06 Screen Shot 2017 02 03 At 10 51 30 Am

Pros & Cons: Speed Limiters

Jan. 6, 2017
Provide increased safety or based on flawed logic?

Pro: Powering safety improvements

by Michael D. Spence, senior vice president of fleet services, CTP, Fleet Advantage

The U.S. Dept. of Transportation (DOT) is proposing a new rule for heavy-duty truck operators that would set a maximum travel speed. The rule is expected to save more than $1 billion in fuel annually as well as improve safety efforts for drivers, trucks, and passengers across the country. The rule, proposed by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), would set important safety standards mandating all new vehicles with a gross weight of more than 26,000 lbs. be equipped with a speed limiter device.

Many fleets are already using speed limiting technology as a way to help manage fuel costs and increase their chances of safer transportation routes. And with advanced technology already embedded into today’s new trucks, leveraging, monitoring and extracting data from the electronic control module is a practice that’s commonplace for many of these fleets leading the industry into the future.

The rule proposal is recommending that speed limiters be set at a maximum speed of either 60, 65, or 68 mph, but the agencies are considering other speeds based on public input.

According to NHTSA, speed limiters have a fundamental benefit. “This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

FMCSA has been studying the effects speed limiting devices would have on the industry. A recent study found trucks with speed limiting devices have a 50% lower crash rate compared to trucks without such devices. The study saw 20 truck fleets operating 138,000 trucks participate, with an analysis of more than 15,000 crash incidents.

In addition to the safety and social responsibility benefits of using speed limiters, fleets would realize financial gains to the bottom line. Regardless of the price of diesel, fuel represents 70% of a fleet’s annual operational spending. Multiply that over a fleet of 100 trucks, and the annual savings can reach well into the millions.

In addition to data that can be utilized for safety, today’s trucks can leverage the power of data and business intelligence in order to monitor fuel trends that can impact the bottom line. As an example, proprietary software from Fleet Advantage is being utilized by private fleets and for-hire carriers to monitor more than 20,000 trucks around the country. This software is helping to track safety and driver behaviors, fuel trends, and the extraction of data from onboard computers that help truck organizations make smarter decisions about their fleets.

The use of speed limiters would be a sensible move toward the future of the transportation industry. With today’s technology built into new trucks, realizing these safety and financial gains is now a reality for everyone that touches America’s transportation infrastructure.

On the next page, read the argument against speed limiters

Con: National speed limit is a gamble

by Todd Spencer, executive vice president, OOIDA

A national speed limiter mandate for large trucks would be an ill-advised policy as it would create dangerous conditions for all highway users without providing any safety or fuel-saving benefits.

The proposing agencies fully acknowledge the risk of an increase in crashes, but they are crossing their fingers as they hope for less severe crashes. We shouldn’t gamble with people’s lives based on such flawed logic.

The agencies relied in part on research conducted by Dr. Steven Johnson of the Mack-Blackwell Transportation Center at the University of Arkansas; however, they failed to acknowledge his conclusions that speed limiters create differential speeds that increase the number of interactions among vehicles, leading to a greater likelihood of accidents.

The suggested speed limits in the proposed rule would have no effect on the greater majority of truck-related crashes. A 2015 study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration demonstrates that of the fatal crashes involving large trucks in which the travel speed was reported, 80% occurred below 55 mph.

Supposedly, speed limiters would save more than $1 billion in fuel. But that won’t happen if more trucks are needed to deliver the same amount of freight, thus using more fuel and emitting more greenhouse gases. Other vehicles will slow down when they reach speed limited trucks, then speed up quickly to pass, a maneuver that requires more fuel consumption.

While it is certainly true that slower speeds can reduce fuel costs, fuel is only one of many costs of operation. The trade-off is a driver’s time. Does it not have value? Do carriers and government agencies want drivers spending even more time behind the wheel? The net effect on capacity means more trucks are needed to make up for the loss in productivity, meaning even more congestion.

The proposal disregards the authority of states to determine their own speed limits. Congress authorized states to set limits based on their own unique factors years ago. Since then, 25 states have set speed limits at or above 70 mph, which is higher than any of the proposed limits included in the proposed rule.

States such as Virginia have moved away from split speed limits in favor of uniform speeds for all vehicles. Researchers have also recently recommended altering Montana’s split speed limit policy per the results of a study by Wayne State University showing that uniform speeds would reduce queuing behind large trucks and lower crash rates.

Slowing down only trucks on all U.S. roads will not increase safety but will instead increase road rage, congestion and crashes. Trading “less severe” crashes for more crashes is simply irresponsible.

Voice your opinion!

To join the conversation, and become an exclusive member of FleetOwner, create an account today!

Sponsored Recommendations

Leveraging telematics to get the most from insurance

Fleet owners are quickly adopting telematics as part of their risk mitigation strategy. Here’s why.

Reliable EV Charging Solution for Last-Mile Delivery Fleets

Selecting the right EV charging infrastructure and the right partner to best solve your needs are critical. Learn which solution PepsiCo is choosing to power their fleet and help...

Overcoming Common Roadblocks Associated with Fleet Electrification at Scale

Fleets in the United States, are increasingly transitioning from internal combustion engine vehicles to electric vehicles. While this shift presents challenges, there are strategies...

Report: The 2024 State of Heavy-Duty Repair

From capitalizing on the latest revenue trends to implementing strategic financial planning—this report serves as a roadmap for navigating the challenges and opportunities of ...