Limiting the Speed for Truckers


Truck speed is something the trucking industry has dealt with for the longest time, and safety has always been an issue. Safety should always be the first thing a trucker focuses on. Ultimately, speed is indisputably one of the essential components of safety. Research reveals that semi-truck speeding increases the risk of accidents involving severe injuries and even death. For some regulators, the solution is obvious — mandate the installation of speed limiters on all qualifying commercial carrier vehicles. For others, though, this proposal represents an overstep of bounds by federal officials.

Truck Speed Debate

This debate has been renewed once again in light of the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s announcement that it would pursue a 2016 measure proposing speed limiters. The effort is supported by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, too, as the agencies will collaborate to implement the new rule. Find out what you need to know about the progress of this initiative and how it could affect your daily operations.

Why Speed Limiters Are Back on the Table

Many truckers wonder why the FMCSA and NHTSA are revisiting a proposal that initially emerged almost six years ago. Indeed, the time-lapse would indicate that it’s not a significant priority for regulators, but this has seemingly changed. Several events may have prompted the shift, including an apparent increase in accidents involving semi-trucks and increased pressure to address rising road fatality rates.

Another example that has pushed this to the forefront is the tragic incident of a Colorado truck driver who was speeding at 85 MPH before causing an accident that took four lives. Many saw it as unjust when they sentenced him to 110 years in prison. It illuminates the genuine danger from truckers who fail to honor the truck speed limit. Speeding can very easily cost other drivers their lives.

Why Speed Limiters May Be Beneficial

Some people wonder why speed limiters are necessary or beneficial for truckers. There are indeed many benefits that speed limiter devices can provide. It’s not uncommon for truckers to develop a so-called “lead foot,” which tends to drive faster than intended. Cruise control can help prevent this, but there are many instances when it’s not advisable to use cruise control, including the following:

  • Slippery or wet conditions
  • You’re driving in a city area
  • There’s heavy traffic
  • The road is winding

These factors may make it challenging to maintain a low speed without cruise control. A speed limiter would eliminate the possibility of reaching unsafe speeds and ensure that truckers don’t inadvertently drive too fast.

Why Speed Limiters May Be Bad for Business

Though speed limiters offer some clear advantages, some truckers still argue that they will harm business and increase liability. This claim is related to a specific set of questions.

Why do trucks have a lower speed limit, and what speed are semi-trucks governed to? The answer to the first part of this inquiry is simple — trucks typically have a lower speed limit than other vehicles due to the weight of their cargo makes it more difficult to stop. Of course, the answer to the second part varies widely based on what state you’re in.

This inconsistency has led some truckers to argue that a speed limiter couldn’t possibly be effective. For example, if there is a speed limit of 85 MPH, a speed limiter device will need to adjust for this higher limit. Likewise, if you’re driving through an area with a speed limit of 70 MPH, a speed limiter is useless if it caps the speed at 85 MPH.

To be effective, a speed limiter must automatically adjust based on the area you are in. Some so-called intelligent speed limiter units may be able to do so. However, many highways have variable speed limits, making it difficult even for technologically advanced systems. These complications ultimately mean that implementing a speed limiter regulation may be costly to trucking companies and regulatory agencies. Thus, it only displays minimal real improvement in the safety of truckers’ driving habits.

How Speed Limiter Devices Work

There are several different speed limiters, but they generally work by detecting the speed of a vehicle indicated by its sensors. That data then goes to the vehicle’s computer, where an electronic engine control device — the speed limiter unit — is activated. It works by reducing the fuel output to the engine. Thus, it works to prevent the vehicle from increasing speed further. Critics of the proposed mandate have pointed out that

truckers can override this device by maintaining acceleration. Thus, the truck speed still accelerates.

What to Expect From the Proposed Regulation

Many truckers and trucking companies have responded receptively to the proposed regulation. However, others have been resistant. There are valid reasons for both positions. Alternatively, it’s essential to know what to expect no matter where you stand. Regardless of what the FMCSA and NHTSA ultimately rule, you should invest in high quality truck insurance.

The right truck insurance policy can help mitigate the cost associated with accidents and other liabilities. It is essential regardless of whether the truck speed is a factor. If regulators implement the speed limiter, truckers should prepare to comply with and maintain safe driving practices, just like you did before. Safety can save lives when you’re on the road. Consequently, you should be vigilant to avoid speeding even if there’s no speed limiter on your truck.

About Western Truck Insurance Services

Western Truck Insurance Services is a commercial truck insurance agency with roots dating back to 1954. We have evolved into a highly respected, professionally managed, truck and transportation insurance brokerage. The hallmark of our organization is our desire to provide unparalleled service. We go way beyond what you expect to receive from an insurance brokerage. Equipped with state of the art automation, Western Truck Insurance can provide you with lightning fast truck insurance quotes, customer service, Insurance certificates, and coverage changes. Contact us today at (800) 937-8785 to learn more!