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Big-Rig Speed Limiters: Safer For Us All, Or Misguided Regulation?

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Could we keep our highways safer as well as cut greenhouse gas emissions (and perhaps some of our reliance on foreign petroleum) all by placing a speed limiter on all the big rigs in the nation?

It’s an idea that, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS), could find some new momentum in Washington, D.C.—is part of a new policy push from the Obama administration to improve fuel-efficiency and reduce greenhouse-gas emissions of medium- and heavy-duty trucks.

And if you shrug your shoulders and don’t think it could really add up to much, think on this: Every 1 mph reduction in fuel is said to reduce fuel consumption by about 1 percent. Independently, ABF Freight System Inc. has estimated that a truck running at a maximum speed of 62 mph emits 33.5 fewer tons of CO2 annually than one maxing out at 68 mph.

Separately, the American Trucking Associations and Road Safe America in 2006 petitioned in favor of the rule—which would have required limiters for all trucks with a gross weight exceeding 26,000 pounds—but the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has been a strong opponent. Back in 2006, the OOIDA argued that “speed limiters at 68 mph on all new trucks could make roadways more dangerous for drivers of all vehicles,” because of the speed differentials it would create between cars and trucks.

According to the IIHS, in 2008 more than 4,000 people died in crashes involving large trucks, yet about 85 percent of those were occupants of other smaller passenger vehicles, motorcyclists, or pedestrians.

In 2007, the Institute found that 64 percent of U.S. drivers favored truck speed governors. NHTSA is in the process of devising and developing new fuel-efficiency standards, beginning with the 2014 model year, for semis and large trucks, so such a regulation could be introduced along with them.

Tryck stopping distances are already much longer than those of cars, the Institute argues, so considering the extra weight and the harm it can do, the consequences of speeding can greatly increase the severity of crashes. A big rig going 75 mph takes about a third longer to come to a stop compared to one going 65 mph, the IIHS says.

That seemingly slight difference in the speed of trucks could save, potentially, hundreds of lives per year.

What do you think? Is this a public-safety issue? Are speeding trucks more dangerous than speeding cars and thus require a firmer hand? Or does this amount to big-brother bullying?

[IIHS]
 
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Comments (8)
  1. Drivers should be careful what they wish for... if speed limiters work on trucks why wouldn't you add them to cars?
     
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  2. A better solution to limiting the speed of truck, put a stop to nationwide long haul trucking. Trains move cargo more efficiently and effectively. Trucks are perfect for last mile but make no sense for multi-state or cross country deliveries.
     
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  3. Another misguided solution. If saving fuel & lowering emissions is the goal, don't target truckers, place a tax on fuel. This will encourage all drivers to buy more fuel efficient vehicles and drive in more fuel efficient ways.
    As far as safety, the safety increases mentioned will be offset by the dangers of speed differential. Cars running 5-10 MPH faster than the fastest trucks creates danger. Limiting the top speed of the truck also means the driver has less freedom to decide what speed is safe for the conditions at hand. For example, if a truck driver wants to pass another truck, being able to speed up temporarily a couple of MPH means they get around a little faster, alleviating congestion. A truck going 68 MPH creeping by one or more trucks going 67 MPH creates a back up of angry drivers behind him and angry drivers are not safe drivers.
     
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  4. I don't think a single solution will work ideally for this issue. As James mentioned, trains can transport cargo more efficiently, and relying on trains more could reduce trucks on the road. Speed limiters on trucks already cause greater traffic jams. If every truck on the road has a speed limiter and we don't reduce the number of trucks on the road, traffic jams are going to be worse, angry drivers will increase, and more people will do stupid things while driving.
     
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  5. James - you will be unhappy with the produce (fruit and vegs) you get on the East coast if those goodies take a train ride from California or Texas. A truck can make that trip, with a refrigerated van and two drivers in just a few days.
     
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  6. There are a lot of negative effects about the speed limiter being put on a truck. Before I get into them, lets look at why these accidents are happening. People do not stop to consider that the heavier the vehicle, the more respect they need to give it. Every day, sometimes two to three times a day, a truck driver experiences someone pulling out in front of them. Changing lanes to get in front of a truck less than a cars length from the trucks front bumper. A truck tries to merge with traffic, and instead of either moving over a lane, speeding up or slowing down a bit to permit the truck to safely enter a highway, someone sits there and gives the finger to the driver when he starts coming over into their lane. But why does that truck driver do that? Because he's running out of road, and that other driver that is not moving out of the way has no respect for the weight.
    If you want to see some of the incidents that truckers are experiencing just a little to the north in Canada, please visit the website URL nospeedlimiter.ca and check out the discussion forum.
    Speed limiters are dangerous on trucks!
     
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  7. Actually the vast mojority of fllets are already governed, what needs to be done os set the limiters on autos (yes all late model cars already have this, they are just set to speeds by tire speed rating at the factory, most are between 95 and 105 but some are much higher) set all vehicles at a lower speed, wait a minute that would make sense but then where would we get the lost revenue from?? No more tickets?? That won't work.... Another stupid idea is lane restriction, let's put heavier and longer vehicles in the right lanes, that makes it much easier and safer for vehicles to enter and exit, not to mention forcing these vehicles to pass on the right, weaving in and out of traffic, yeah much safer, all the while the left lane, you know the passing lane, is empty, what brainiac came up with this crap??
     
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  8. speed limiters are not the answer and out of the crashs you talk about with 4,000 deaths you need to ask how many where caused by the person driving the car? With that said has anyone that is supporting this think that slower trucks will mean more trucks in the longrun and how safe is that?
     
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