Tag Archives: speed limiters

Ongoing Controversy Over Speed Limits & Speed Limiters on Trucks

My previous post on this issue, August 28, 2016: Speed Limiters: The Controversy of Speed Differentials Between Trucks & Cars

More recent news on the issue since that post: 


Amid ongoing debate over role of speed: “Michigan Approves Higher Speed Limits” Who is right?

Michigan Governor Rick Snyder recently signed legislation which:

. . . authorizes a 75 mph speed limit on 600 miles of freeways and a 65 mph limit on 900 miles of non-freeway roads. The bill also raises the maximum speed limit for trucks from 60 to 65 mph.

. . . the goal is to raise speed limits where 85 percent of drivers are already traveling at higher speeds and will protect motorists from being unnecessarily ticketed in “speed traps.”

It is also thought that less people exceeding the legal speed limit will allow law enforcement to focus on impaired, distracted or careless driving. . .

The bill will go into effect within one year if the study says it is safe. Michigan Approves Higher Speed Limits, Go By Truck Global News, Updated: January 10, 2017

Another article provides further insight:

“Ensuring that all Michiganders are safe while operating vehicles on our state’s roadways is critically important, and these bills allow for appropriately increased speed limits on certain roadways after safety studies are conducted,” Snyder said.

The main bill requires the Michigan Department of Transportation and Department of State Police to raise speed limits to 75 miles per hour on 600 miles of rural, limited-access freeways if a safety and engineering study deems it safe.

The bills also allow for speed limit changes in other areas, including:

  • Speed limits on gravel roads in counties with populations over 1 million would decrease to 45 miles per hour.
  • Up to 900 miles of rural state trunk line highways would see hikes to 65 miles per hour. 75-mph speed limits officially coming to Michigan, By Emily Lawler | elawler@mlive.com
    on January 05, 2017 at 11:47 AM, updated January 05, 2017 at 2:18 PM

Reading the comments to this article reminds me of my goal to revolutionize traffic safety advocacy by mobilizing the citizens of our country to get to the bottom of traffic safety issues and come up with solutions which show more concern for keeping people safe than saving corporate profit or protecting individual rights or relying solely on common sense and a sense of personal responsibility.

And I wonder what will happen when this engineering study is completed. What will Michigan do with the results? What will the rest of the states (and the cities therein) and the federal government do with the results? How will it be compared to traffic fatality statistics which show that speed is a factor in way too many crashes? Will we learn to intentionally design our roadways safer and set speed limits accordingly? Will this impact decision-making on truck speed limiters?

Is it possible that we could become a culture suitably enlightened and motivated to truly make safety a priority? Would a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman work to make sure that this was so?


Speed Limiters: U.S. Revs Up Interest in Slowing Heavy Trucks & Buses (FairWarning)

Fair Warning’s Paul Feldman has written an article on the recently proposed federal regulation to require big rigs to utilize speed limiters: Speed Limiters for Big Rigs After Moving at a Crawl, U.S. Revs Up Interest in Slowing Heavy Trucks and Buses

Our crash involved a trucker going too fast for the traffic conditions but not necessarily over the speed limit. In fact, there were many factors involved in our tragic outcome. It makes me wonder what all leads to speeding trucks, as well as speeding trucks getting involved in deadly crashes. What is the root of the problem here and what is the best way to address it?

On the one hand, on the other hand: Speed Limiters: The Controversy of Speed Differentials Between Trucks & Cars

I am still hoping to organize a Tired Trucker Roundtable for some down to earth discussion so we can all get on the same page.

Tired Trucker Roundtable

“Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior” by a husband/wife trucker team

You will want to read this in-depth article on truck safety full of practical knowledge and insight — written by a trucker husband/wife team.

Opinion: Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior, Trucks.com, by Jeff & Linda Halling, September 8, 2016

Written by Jeff and Linda Halling, a husband-and-wife driving team based in Missouri. This is one in a series of periodic guest columns by industry thought leaders.

While the federal government is adding new trucking industry regulations — including speed limiters for big rigs and electronic logging devices for drivers — these moves don’t really address the root causes of truck crashes.

If we really want to improve safety for truckers and the motoring public, we need to focus on the base reasons for unsafe behavior. We believe better training is key — teaching drivers good work habits. That will reduce the frequency of truck crashes. . .

Read more here: Trucking Regulations Don’t Address Biggest Risk – Unsafe Behavior


Speed Limiters: The Controversy of Speed Differentials Between Trucks & Cars

The DOT recently published a proposed rule to require “speed limiters” on trucks — meaning there would be technology on trucks to limit how fast they could run. There is, of course, controversy about this proposed safety measure.

See the proposed rule (NPRM) at this link: U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiters For Large Commercial Vehicles

The American Trucking Associations (ATA) supports it. Some major trucking companies already use them.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) opposes it:  Among the various concerns the organization has are the possibility that truckers will speed more often in low-speed areas, such as construction zones, to make up time, and the potential for drivers to lose money because they couldn’t drive as many miles in a day. http://ht.ly/e2Hy303DTS0

According to Joel Stocksdale, Autoblog,

NHTSA’s proposal says vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 26,000 pounds or more must be limited to 60, 65 or 68 mph. This would apply to both semi-trucks and buses. NHTSA explains that the amount of force a truck will exert in a crash goes up far more drastically than with cars because of the vehicle’s great mass; hence, a lower speed limit with more seriously impact safety. US Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx summed it up saying, “This is basic physics.” The organization also said that requiring limiters could also save over $1 billion in fuel each year.

I have corresponded with one independent truck owner-operator, Jeff Halling (and Linda, his wife–a truck driver team), about this safety issue (among others). This is what he says,

  • Personally Linda and I think this is a terrible idea. Not because we want to drive 80 miles an hour but because it totally eliminates our advantage of getting out of a situation if we have to speed up a little bit. Every credible study that has ever been conducted says traffic flows better when everyone is running the same speed. Several states have actually increased the truck speed to coincide with that of cars. Illinois and Arkansas being the most recent. Folks driving cars generally drive anywhere from 5 to 10 to 15 miles an hour above the posted limit. Trucks stuck at 65 will create major rear-end hazards. Not to mention the incredible traffic jams and road rages that will increase dramatically. The only way speed limiters will work is if all vehicles have them and we both know that’ll never happen. Very interested to see what the report says this week.
  • Can you imagine how this will affect the Move Over Law. I’m running down the interstate stuck at 65 cars are running 80 and 85 miles an hour. An emergency vehicle is on the shoulder in front of me what do I do. If I move over it’s guaranteed rear-end crash. If I slow down to 40 miles an hour which is what they recommend another possibility of rear-end crash. Just not a good idea.
  • I can say this though. If this law does pass we definitely need to get stronger rear end guards on trailers. Because rear-end crashes will go up ten fold.

Jeff and his wife (they are a trucking team) recently had a good conversation, about truck safety concerns, with an Idaho DOT vehicle inspector while they were being inspected. This is what he told them:

  • While we never touched on the subject of speed limiters he did say he did not like speed differentials. Although we got the impression he wanted to lower the limit for cars not raise it for trucks. Makes sense everybody drives too damn fast.

In fact, I found a September 2004 Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) article on research related to this topic: The Safety Impacts of Differential Speed Limits on Rural Interstate Highways . They study the impact of Uniform Speed Limits (USL) and Differential Speed Limits (DSDL). Here are a couple of quotes from that article:

  • A 1974 study by Hall and Dickinson showed that speed differences contributed to crashes, primarily rear end and lane change collisions.
  • Table 1 shows that a higher proportion of car-into-truck and truck-into-car crashes occurred in USL States, except for rear end crashes where more car-into truck collisions happened in the DSL group.
  • A study by Garber and Gadiraju conducted in 1991 compared crash rates in the adjacent States of Virginia (DSL) and West Virginia (USL).(3) The increase in the posted speed limit for trucks to 105 km/h (65 mi/h) did not result in a significant increase in fatal, injury, and overall accident rates. There was, however, some evidence that the DSL may increase some types of crash rates while reducing others.

It will be some time before every car is equipped with crash avoidance technology, so cars rear-ending trucks will continue to be a problem and underride deaths will still be a problem until the underride regulation is drastically improved.

And, even with the crash avoidance technology, what will be the result of high speed differentials? Will the cars truly avoid colliding with the truck? Will the trucking industry be required to protect against underride at higher speed collisions than what is currently proposed: 35 mph?

Here is a previous post which I wrote on speed limiters last spring:

See why truckers oppose Speed Limiters & why others promote them #VisionZero strategy needed

How is it that I, as a self-made (Ha! like I had a choice) safety advocate, am waffling on this purported safety measure? Do these things ever get a truly comprehensive discussion around the table?

Talkin together

Yet one more traffic safety issue which could perhaps be more effectively negotiated with the help of a National Traffic Safety Ombudsman. . . just sayin’.

UPDATE, February 26, 2017:

Who has the right to block efforts to end Preventable Death by Underride?

I just got back from an errand. Something triggered a memory of AnnaLeah & Mary. I think that it was driving by a park here in Rocky Mount to which Mary and AnnaLeah never got to go. We had lived here less than a year before the crash.

It made me wonder (as I do so often) what they might be doing right now. How  might their lives have unfolded?

All my anger poured out, about how they have been cheated and how wrong it all is. I was yelling in my car, “Who gave power to the trucking industry over life & death matters?  Who has the right to block efforts to end Preventable Death by Underride?”

And that is only one of the many safety issues involved.

Yesterday I was frustrated with the whole side guard issue and the well-known under-reporting of side underride fatalities (in fact, of all types of underride). As far as I can tell, it has contributed to more underride victims as a direct result of the inaccurate cost/benefit analysis that has taken place.

Of course — in case you didn’t already know — I think that the whole cost/benefit analysis basis of safety rulemaking is flawed and unethical and needs to be re-examined. I have clearly laid out my thoughts on this in a drafted Vision Zero Executive Order.

Two more areas which make me concerned — because they do not seem to be taking into account the whole picture — are:

  1. Hours of Service (Have truckers been asked what they think would work best?) and
  2. Speed Limiters (What will truckers do when they need to speed up to get around someone but their speed limiter technology will not allow it? And speed limiters will not change situations where drivers cause crashes because they are driving “too fast for conditions.”)

One trucker, Jeff Halling, recently said to me (regarding speed limiters),

“Can you imagine how this will affect the Move Over Law? I’m running down the interstate stuck at 65 cars are running 80 and 85 miles an hour. An emergency vehicle is on the shoulder in front of me. What do I do? If I move over, it’s guaranteed rear-end crash. If I slow down to 40 miles an hour, which is what they recommend, another possibility of rear-end crash. Just not a good idea. I can say this though, If this law does pass we definitely need to get stronger rear end guards on trailers. Because rear-end crashes will go up ten-fold.”

Both of these situations — in my mind — need someone to facilitate rulemaking who has only safety in mind. Such as a Traffic Safety Ombudsman.

And, one more thing. . .  the pervasive idea in this country has to be confronted that it is an inevitable and acceptable risk you take when you drive on the roads, instead of understanding that there are so many things which could be done to prevent crash deaths.

Who has the power

See why truckers oppose Speed Limiters & why others promote them #VisionZero strategy needed

Yet another tug-of-war over traffic safety. Need a Vision Zero resolution.

Truckers Fighting Speed Limiter Regulation:

  1. Speed limiters are unsafe when sharing our highways with motorists, specifically, concerns with car–truck speed differential.
  2. Points for the NHTSA to consider:
    • Possibility that fatal truck accidents can actually be caused by the use of speed limiters.  FMCSA studies should be conducted showing the comparison of high speed fatal truck accidents (without speed limiters) vs. fatal truck accidents involving the use of speed limiters.
    • Better company CDL training programs mandated and enforced to ensure new drivers are safe and responsible.  Trainers should remain in passenger seat at all times observing trainee behavior and not sleeping in the birth.
    • The ATA has stated repeatedly, especially during their arguments involving the new hours of service proposal, that fatal truck crashes have been reduced significantly in the last few years.
    • If speed limits are no longer considered safe, then perhaps it is the speed limits themselves that need to be re-evaluated rather than placing speed limiters on certain commercial vehicles.  This would also address the need to reduce fuel consumption and fuel emissions for ALL vehicles, not just heavy trucks.  It would also prevent a speed differential between trucks and cars, which JB HUNT has stated, “This speed differential may cause a safety hazard…”
    • CSA, better driver training, PSP driver profiles for hiring, higher wages, and well rested drivers will create the safest roads…. not more regulations.  Regulations are just the quick fix to divert from the more deep rooted problems of the trucking industry.

Has their concern been adequately addressed? 

Here are comments on the issue as posted in the Federal Register:

Summary of Comments

On January 26, 2007, NHTSA and FMCSA published a joint Request for Comments Notice in theFederal Registersoliciting public comments onthe ATA and Road Safe America petitions. The Department of Transportation Docket Management System received approximately 3,850 comments into Docket No. NHTSA-2007-26851, the majority of which were submitted by private citizens. Of these, many comments supported a regulation that would limit the speed of large trucks to 68 mph, which included comments from trucking fleets and consumer advocacy groups, and others. Other comments submitted by independent owner-operator truckers, a trucking fleet association, and private citizens were opposed to the rulemaking requested in the petitions. The remaining comments did not explicitly indicate a position with regard to the petitions.

Comments from private citizens supporting the petitions include responses from individuals who were involved in crashes with heavy trucks or had friends/relatives who were involved in crashes with large trucks. The private citizen supporters of the petitions are typically non-truck drivers who stated that they are intimidated by the hazardous driving practices of some truck drivers, such as speeding, tailgating, and abrupt lane changes. These commenters expressed the belief that limiting the speed of heavy trucks to 68 mph will result in safer highways.

Some of the organizations supporting the petition provided similar reasons for their support and the selected comments summarized below cover the range of issues they discussed.

Schneider National, Inc., a major trucking fleet, indicated that its trucks have been speed limited to 65 mph since 1996. According to Schneider’s crash data from its own fleet, vehicles without speed limiters accounted for 40 percent of the company’s serious collisions while driving 17 percent of the company’s total miles. Schneider stated that its vehicles have a significantly lower crash rate than large trucks that are not speed limited or have a maximum speed setting greater than 65 mph.

J.B. Hunt Transport, Inc., another trucking fleet, commented that a differential speed between cars and large trucks will result from trucks being equipped with speed limiters set below the posted speed limit. This speed differential may cause a safety hazard. However, J. B. Hunt believes that the current safety hazard caused by large trucks traveling at speeds in excess of posted limits is a greater safety hazard.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety (Advocates) commented that large trucks require 20-40 percent more braking distance than passenger cars and light trucks for a given travel speed. Advocates does not believe that the data in the 1991 report to Congress (2) are still valid because the speed limits posted by the States over the past ten years are much higher than the national posted speed limit of 55 mph that was in effect in 1991.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) stated that 97 percent of the occupants that are killed in crashes between heavy trucks and passenger vehicles are passenger vehicle occupants. IIHS stated that on-board electronic engine control modules (ECM) will maintain the desired speed control for vehicles when enforcement efforts are not sufficient due to lack of resources. IIHS stated that there is already widespread use of speed governors by carriers and a mandate will result in net safety and economic benefits.

The Governors Highway Safety Association (GHSA) stated that large trucks are 3 percent of registered vehicles and represent about 8 percent of the total miles traveled nationwide. Also, GHSA believes that it is prudent to consider speed limiting devices since they are currently installed in large trucks and can be adapted to be tamper-resistant. It stated that conventional approaches to vehicle speed control do not provide optimal benefits because of a lack of enforcement resources and too many miles of highway to cover.

Several comments, including those from ATA’s Truck Maintenance Council, provided information concerning economic, non-safety benefits that would result from large truck speed limiters. The Truck Maintenance Council stated that an increase of 1 mph results in a 0.1 mpg increase in fuel consumption, and for every 1 mph increase in speed over 55 mph, there is a reduction of 1 percent in tire tread life.

Comments opposing rulemaking that would require speed limiters on large trucks to be set to a maximum speed of 68 mph were received from many independent truck drivers, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), the Truckload Carriers Association (TCA), and private citizens (non-truck drivers).

OOIDA commented that the 1991 report to Congress (3) is still valid today—there is no need to mandate speed limiters because the target population (high speed crashes) is still small compared to the total number of truck crashes. According to OOIDA, speed limiters would not have an effect on crashes in areas where the posted speed limit for trucks is 65 mph or below. OOIDA believes that the petitioners are attempting to force all trucks to be speed limited so that the major trucking companies with speed limited vehicles can compete for drivers with the independent trucking operations that have not limited their speeds to 68 mph or below. OOIDA also stated that it is not necessary to set large truck speed limiters at 68 mph to realize most of the economic benefits cited by the petitioners because improved fuel economy and reduced emissions can be achieved with improved truck designs.

TCA commented that a speed differential will be created in many States by the 68-mph speed limit for heavy trucks and a higher speed limit for other vehicles. This speed differential will result in more interaction between cars and trucks and may be an additional safety risk for cars and trucks.

According to comments from CDW Transport, a trucking fleet, speed limiters should be required on passenger vehicles as well as commercial motor vehicles.

Several comments from private citizens and small businesses opposed to the petitions stated that speed is not the only cause of crashes, that weather and highway conditions are also significant factors. There were comments stating that passenger vehicles cause the majority of the crashes between trucks and passenger vehicles. Some comments stated that truck drivers will experience more fatigue with a 68-mph maximum speed, which could result in more crashes; some comments expressed the opinion that State and local law enforcement agencies should enforce the speed of all vehicles on the nation’s roads and highways; several comments favored a 75-mph limit for truck speed limiters, instead of 68 mph, to match the highest posted speed limit in the country.

The Truck Manufacturers Association (TMA) provided information concerning the cost of tamper-proof speed limiters for large trucks. TMA estimates a one-time cost of $35 to $50 million would be required to develop ECMs with tamper-resistant speed limiters and a one-time cost of $150 million to $200 million to develop ECMs with tamper-proof speed limiters. With both of these ECM designs, there would be additional costs to make adjustments to the ECM for maximum speed, tire size, and drive axle and transmission gear ratio information.

Projected Date for Rulemaking Process on Minimum Liability Insurance Increase

Minolta DSC

Some good news: It looks as if FMCSA plans to move up rulemaking for minimum insurance from a November projected date to September 19 (before bills to defund the process could go through).


There is, of course, opposition to this potential rulemaking. And other projects might be moved back. How unfortunate that needed truck safety changes are too often unnecessarily slowed down by constant political wrangling.

Wasted resources. Wasted time. Wasted lives.