As detailed in a previous article on this website, the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCA) conducted an in-depth study as to the reasons why trucking accidents occur. One of the study’s findings was that in 23 percent of all trucking accidents examined, the truck was travelling too fast for current road conditions. In other words: speeding. It was the second highest factor found for truck accidents.
The FMCA recently released the findings of another study, which examined the effects of a possible solution to speeding by commercial trucks, a device called a speed limiter. The study included data from 20 freight carriers and more than 138,000 trucks for the years 2007, 2008, and 2009. It also included an examination of over 15,000 accidents involving commercial trucks over that same three-year period.
A speed limiter, also known as a governor, measures and regulates the speed of a truck engine. The device will not allow a truck to go faster than a preset speed. While there is no federal law mandating their use, they are standard equipment on new commercial trucks and have been in use for a while. Owners and drivers need only activate them and set the maximum speed limit.
Most Independent Truck Owner-Operators Don’t’ Use Speed Limiters
However, the FMCA study cited other research efforts that show that most independent owner-operators of commercial trucks don’t use speed limiters, while more than half of company-owned trucks do employ them.
In addition, a 2007 study conducted by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association asked their members about speed limiters. More than 80 percent of those responding said they would prefer to drive for carriers that don’t require speed limiters, and 80 percent also admitted that where the posted speed limit is lower than the pre-set maximum speed of the speed limiter, they drove above the legal speed limit.
Results: Speed Limiters Reduce Truck Accidents
Bottom line, the study found that trucks without speed limiters were involved in more accidents than those with the device. The overall crash rate for trucks with speed limiters was 11 percent, while the crash rate for trucks without speed limiters was 16.4 percent. In addition, the study observed that speed limiters have been mandated in Europe for more than 10 years, and data show that the crash involvement rate for trucks with the device fell 26 percent between 1993 – the year the mandate began – and 2005.
Speeding by commercial vehicles, such as large over-the-road trucks, poses an especially dangerous risk to all others on the road given the weight of the truck and its cargo. Heavily loaded commercial trucks require extensive time and distance to stop. And if it doesn’t stop in time to avoid other vehicles, the speed and the weight of the truck can cause significant property damage and loss of life.