FMCSA Pushing for Speed Limiters on All Trucks

2012 FMCSA Speed Limiter Study

The ATA’s Bill Graves fashions himself quite the highway safety advocate. He currently backs the ATA’s six year old push for Speed Limiters to be placed in all new trucks, and retroactively fitted on all active older semi trucks as well.

During this time, the FMCSA and two research teams went ahead and investigated whether speed limiters were indeed something that added to highway safety, or just put unnecessary restrictions on drivers who needed to make quick decisions.

This was the first study to use actual truck crash data collected directly from truck fleets, representing a wide array of crashes. The researchers used data from more than 150,000 trucks that were involved in more than 28,000 crashes. More specifically, the study included data from 20 truck fleets, approximately 138,000 trucks, and analyzed more than 15,000 crashes.

What did the FMCSA Speed Limiter Study conclude?

  • Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active SL.
  • The cost of SL technology is negligible and is a standard feature on new trucks (owners only need to activate and set the SL).
  • Part of the study reported that 22.9 percent of all large truck crashes and 10.4 percent of large truck/passenger car crashes were coded as traveling too fast for conditions.

Did speed alone contribute to these wrecks? The group falls just short of being that confident about the results. The 10% average crash rate perked up quite a few federal ears, however. The NHTSA and the FMCSA want to improve that average, and they think they can do it through the expansion of speed limiting technology.

Opponents of speed limiters may argue that safety can be compromised since speed-limited vehicles cannot accelerate to avoid traffic conflicts (for instance, in merging situations), and the slower speed of these vehicles relative to the surrounding traffic creates speed differentials, which can create dangerous conditions within confined time periods.

Do Speed Limiters Work?

Sometimes. The FMCSA points to a previous study done in Britain that revealed effectiveness of speed limiters. Here, the crash involvement rate for speed-limited heavy trucks fell 26 percent between 1993 (when mandated) and 2005. However, would experts and office holders admit SLs are the sole reason? Hardly. U.K. authorities noted that other contributing factors may have influenced the decline, but will only admit that SLs played a partial role.

Bill Graves, however, is completely convinced and is ready to move. “This study strengthens ATA’s case and we call on both agencies to swiftly move forward with rule-makings to ensure that these devices are required on as many trucks as possible,” he says.

Interested to read more? You can have a look at the study results here in this .pdf file.

What do you think about speed limiters? Are they just another useless tech crutch, or do they help keep things safer on the highway? Let us know!