OOIDA is opposed to mandatory speed limiters because they are dangerous for all highway users. The federal proposal is based on unfounded data that will likely detract from highway safety. In actuality, highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed.
On September 7, 2016, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a notice of proposed rulemaking that would mandate speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks. The proposed regulation seeks to require truck manufacturers activate speed limiters at the time of manufacture and all trucks with engine control modules (ECUs) capable of restricting speed be activated on trucks already on the road. In both instances, the agencies are proposing that the speed limiters remain activated throughout the life of the truck. The agencies are not, however, prepared to pick the speed that the speed limiters should be set at.
While ATA and other big carrier organizations may like speed limiters for their own reasons, like fleet management, they make a driver’s life harder and less safe. A driver needs to have the ability to accelerate to make lane changes, to pass, especially on 2 lane roads, and to simply avoid unsafe situations. Further, there are multiple states where the speed limit exceeds 62 miles per hour. In some states, the limit is as high as 80 miles per hour. That means trucks would be traveling at rates of speed that are as much as 20 miles below the posted limit, impeding the flow of traffic. As we know, the safest highways are those where traffic travels at the same or similar speeds. For every speed differential of 1 mile per hour between vehicles, the likelihood of interaction increases.
While it may be true that driving slower can be a factor in greater fuel economy in a truck, the notion of less fuel being consumed overall is nonsense. As other vehicles encounter slower vehicles, the decelerating, then accelerating involved with lane changes increases fuel consumption for all of the other vehicles on the road. It can also increase emissions and lowers air quality.
Additionally, slower is NOT always safer. Drivers can still exceed the speed limit and in fact, being consistently speed limited encourages them to do so to make up for lost productivity. Mandatory speed limiters mean drivers are required to spend more time behind the wheel, which can increase the likelihood they may become fatigued, but carriers that currently limit their trucks speed often have more crashes than carriers that don’t use limiters. Speed limiters actually detract from highway safety.