Keeping Truckers on a Leash, Speed Limiters…Ugh

tug of war

They,….. are saying that it is all about safety, yet what they are planning will not enhance safety on the nations roads. Instead, it will increase the incidence of truck related crashes.

They,… are also saying it will improve fuel economy. Uhhh, not really! Especially considering that today’s newer heavy trucks and vehicles are using less and less fuel, and still getting the job done.

What’s this all about, and who are “They”? Well, seems the FMCSA and NHTSA are looking to add another rule to choke off trucking. The rule??? Speed regulators on newer trucks with a GVWR of 26,000 pounds or more, which will include not only tractor trailers, but also buses, dump trucks, school buses. The regulators will be required to be installed on new trucks coming out in the future, and trucking companies will be required to retain the settings from the time of purchase until the end of the service life of the vehicle, with a time stamp being available to be seen in the trucks diagnostics portion of the dash readout on the truck.

And the big petitioner for this rule-making suggestion is,….? The ATA (American Trucking Association). Now granted, Yes, slowing a truck or heavy vehicle down will decrease the severity of a crash, one of the downsides to this, is that in their proposal, Owner Operators will not be allowed to adjust the speed limiting device in their own vehicles. The one thing that the ATA has left out, is, What will be done to slow down the remaining vehicles on the nations roads to be at the same pace as heavy vehicles, and reduce the incidence of having these trucks being cut off by those in a hurry to enter or exit the highways ahead of the trucks because of the pace trucking will be reduced to? That would put truckers right back into the UNSAFE position they were in during the years that were had when a large number of states held truckers to “split speed limits”, only today, there are a number of states that have speed limits as high as 80mph. This does Not enhance safety, but instead opens the door to the strong likelihood of creating even more accidents, especially in high traffic areas and could very well jeopardize even more lives, and businesses to lawsuits.

My take on this would be that if speed regulators were to be installed on heavy trucks, then in order to balance the equation, begin installing limiters on the remainder of vehicles across the board, i.e., cars, pickups, motorcycles, basically anything that operates and carries passengers on the nations highways and byways, with the exception of emergency vehicles. And, make it law that every new vehicle that is manufactured be required to be built with such systems or programing installed in the on-board computer systems of every vehicle built, AND set up state vehicle inspection stations around the country with systems to plug into every vehicle to reconfigure the vehicles computer to regulate those as well and within such programming, include a safeguard where if someone were to attempt to override the computer settings, the vehicles speed would either be reduced even further, or the computer would just shut down altogether, requiring the owner to purchase a new computer with the new settings being already built in, thereby leaving the owner with no choice but to be forced to run at the new slower speeds. Thereby reducing the chances of being able to pass another vehicle and cut it off in an effort to not be stuck behind something bigger, or to make it to an exit just ahead.

After a number of years, and a great deal of working getting it done, Ohio finally decided to do away with the split speed limit rule in an effort to keep a reasonable balance for all vehicles on their roads, and to reduce the number of crashes. That change has made a strong, positive difference on the roads, and has reduced the number of accidents involving automobiles and heavy vehicles. Now why would they want to go back to the old system and face the strong possibility of a rise in truck related crashes? It makes no sense to take such steps.

In my eyes, looking at this from a different perspective, this rule, if passed, would be a huge win for the members of the ATA, as their chances of increasing their profits would be pretty strong. How? Forcing owner operators, and smaller trucking companies to slow their pace down, would present ATA members with the strong possibility of gaining new customers, by causing Owner Operators to slow down and loose customers that have become accustomed to having their products picked up and delivered at a certain pace. This would cost owner operators by seeing customers go with the bigger companies that will be offering lower rates.

In reality, if they want so strongly to reduce accidents involving heavy vehicles and save fuel, then go back to reducing the speed limits across the board to 65mph and offer states incentives to do away with split speed limits, and put the federal funding back to the states to place more law enforcement back on the highways to enforce the speed limit laws, (less cops present = more speeders and crazy drivers. More cops visible = safer roads) crack down on aggressive driving, which operators of heavy vehicles face every single day, and enforce the rules of the road.

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Hal Kiah

Hal is a 20+ year OTR Veteran driver and a 12 year military police veteran. He has also served as a dispatcher and has been a trainer for new Over The Road Heavy Haul drivers. Hal has performed “FHWA” inspections (now called DOT Inspections) . He has been instrumental in the last few years, aiding and mentoring other drivers via social media and personal communications as founder of Truck Driving Career, on Facebook and has a passion and goal of seeing that drivers are respected and recognized for their efforts and sacrifices in the trucking industry, recognizing that trucking is a Lifestyle, and not just a job.