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Fuel for Thought

Here We Go Again

By Greg Huggins
Posted Feb 5th 2019 11:44AM

They say history repeats itself. While not exactly a repeat, it’s pretty darn close to it. The source may be different, but the expected outcome would be the same.

Recently, the NTSB (National Transportation Safety Board) released to regulators its recommendations ways to improve highway safety. One such item on that list is speed limiters for heavy vehicles, including trucks, busses and motorcoaches. Back in 2016 it was the ATA (American Trucking Association) that was pushing for speed limiters for all trucks. It was proposed to limit all trucks to either 60 or 65 MPH back in 2016. Now the NTSB is attempting to resurrect the speed limiter issue, but without mention of any particular speed. One stark difference is that while the ATA was seeking to get speed limiters on trucks using flawed data, the NTSB is suggesting a more detailed approach.

H-12-020

TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: Develop performance standards for advanced speed-limiting technology, such as variable speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation devices, for heavy vehicles, including trucks, buses, and motorcoaches.

H-12-021

TO THE NATIONAL HIGHWAY TRAFFIC SAFETY ADMINISTRATION: After establishing performance standards for advanced speed-limiting technology for heavy commercial vehicles, require that all newly manufactured heavy vehicles be equipped with such devices.

Speed limiting trucks was a bad idea in 2016, and remains so today. Unlike the ATA proposal of the past, attempting to outfit all trucks with speed limiting devices, the NTSB proposal would be to install the speed limiting devices on new trucks, should the proposal make it into the regulations.

Much like split speed limits for cars and trucks in some states, speed limiters on trucks will not make the roads safer.

When traffic moves at about the same pace, it flows more smoothly. How many times have you seen a slower vehicle cause a back up? If you have ever driven near a military convoy, just imagine if ALL trucks traveled the way they do, but with one big difference. Military convoys generally travel in single file, in the right lane on interstates and at a lower speed than most traffic. Single file. Now imagine if each one of the slower vehicles in the convoy was continuously and unsuccessfully trying to pass each other. Not that trucks travel in convoys, but when they are all limited to a lower speed (like in some states), they do tend to bunch up together. Ultimately, you will have drivers who can or think they can, climb a hill a little faster than the truck in front of them and then we have the turtle race for miles and miles as neither will budge.

Speed limiters, bad idea in 2016 and still a bad idea in 2019.

Keep an eye out for this one.


See you down the road,

Greg

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