In 2011 the American Trucking Associations called for a built-in limiter on top speed in trucks with a weight in excess of 26,000 pounds. This would be enforced through a mechanical or electronic device installed in the vehicles. The ATA proposed a maximum speed of 65 mph.
This organization has been pursuing the goal of limiting truck speed—with an expected decrease in injury-causing or fatal collisions—for some time. In 2006 the ATA submitted a petition to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) to initiate such a measure, citing an analysis of five years’ data on fatal truck crashes. On those occasions where speed was recorded, ATA found that the vehicle was traveling in excess of 68 mph. In their view, placing a control on truck top speed would result in a significant decrease in fatalities.
The Department of Transportation has studied the more recent request and last week issued a report stating that the proposed measure is expected to be published for review by the end of August. The DOT publication will offer a more detailed look at the rule, such as how it would be applied and the proposed date it would go into effect.
In the trucking community, opinions are divided as to whether speed limit devices would promote safety or present another complication such as poor customer service, rushed deliveries on site, more traffic congestion, or road rage due to the limited ability to overtake slower traffic. At the present, the precise terms of the rule are unknown, including a decision on what the speed limit will be. It is expected that these specifics will be made clear when the rule is issued in the Federal Registrar.
Until the rule is published, there are solutions on the market to assist companies with driver behavior on the road. Telematics systems can help carriers monitor speed in real-time and set alerts so that fleet managers can be notified immediately of unsafe driver activity. Knowledge of driver behavior on the road can help businesses better train and coach their drivers for improved performance. In a sense, control can be left to the fleet manager.