The Department of Transportation is set to require the use of speed limiters, called Electric Control Modules (ECM), on some 18-wheelers.
In a March 2014 report regarding significant rulemaking, a new speed module rule may become applicable in October.
ECM Now Required
The requirement of an ECM would be for semi trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds and on highways with speed limits of 55 mph or over. This would cover the majority of big rigs to travel interstate and intrastate routes.
What is not mentioned in the report is the specific limits on the speed that the modules would be set up. Fortunately for carriers, the installation cost for speed governors is relatively small.
The benefits of speed limiters are several, including fuel savings, compliance with federal regulations, and reduced accidents.
Some Truckers Opposed the New Rules
Not all truck drivers favor the rulemaking, and most oppose the requirements. However, the majority of large fleets in the United States already use devices that limit the speed of the fleet and also to monitor the driving habits of the drivers.
One of the main reasons for the speed limiter rules is that semi-trucks take much longer to stop at highway speeds than passenger cars or pickup trucks. This is a major cause of accidents involving 18-wheelers. Interstate highways like I-10 near Houston, or Interstate 45 and US 290, all have truck accidents caused by speed violations.
The Higher the Speed, the Greater the Injuries
It is also no surprise that accidents involving tractor-trailers at highway speeds are much more likely to be serious or fatal than most any other crash. The vast majority of truck crash fatalities are those from the other vehicle.
The new rule will be hard to enforce and discovering violations will be difficult. Many websites provide a how-to guide for removing a speed limiter from a big rig. Undoubtedly, many truckers will seek to disable the device if they can get away with doing so.
Limiting the maximum speed of a commercial vehicle that weighs more than 26,000 pounds sounds like a good idea from a safety perspective as well as a fuel savings perspective from the carrier’s point of view. Truckers usually get paid by the mile; this is not a popular rule.
Regardless of the positions of the truck drivers of the carriers, this new rulemaking looks to become the law of the land in the next several months. It will reduce accidents and also the number of speeding citations issued.
Because of the extensive use of speed governors already, the transition to the use of many more commercial vehicles is expected to be a smooth one.