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Speed limiter report: Trucks with devices had 50% lower ‘speed-limiter relevant’ crash rate

The report said that the researchers included data from 20 truck fleets, approximately 138,000 trucks and more than 15,000 crashes.Approximately 15 percent of the crashes were identified as speed limiter-relevant.

The Trucker News Services

3/27/2012

WASHINGTON — A report detailing research on the safety impact of speed limiters device installations on commercial motor vehicles shows that trucks equipped with speed limiters had a 50 percent lower speed limiter-relevant crash rate compared to trucks without speed limiters.

The report, requested by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s Office of Analysis, Research and Technology and conducted by MaineWay Services of Fryeburg, Maine, was recently released by FMCSA.

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The report said that the researchers included data from 20 truck fleets, approximately 138,000 trucks and more than 15,000 crashes. Approximately 15 percent of the crashes were identified as speed limiter-relevant.

The report says that assessing whether a crash was speed limiter-relevant was based on four types of information found in the dataset:

• Location of the crash (e.g., highway with speed limit less than 60 mph)

• Crash type (e.g., rear-end truck striking)

• Contributing factor(s) in the crash (used to exclude crashes; e.g., weather-related), and

• Crash narrative.

The speed limiter-relevant crash rate for trucks without speed limiters was five crashes per 100 trucks/year compared to 1.4 per 100 trucks/year for trucks with speed limiters.

In addition, the report showed that the overall crash rate for trucks without a speed limiter was higher compared with trucks equipped with a speed limiter — 16.4 crashes per 100 trucks/year for trucks without a speed limiter versus 11 crashes per 100 trucks/year for trucks with a speed limiter.

“Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active speed limiter,” the report concluded.

The American Trucking Associations, the Truckload Carriers Association and safety advocates support the creation of a federal regulation requiring speed limiters on commercial trucks.

“This study confirms what ATA has been saying for years – speed kills and one of the most effective ways to prevent hundreds, if not thousands, of crashes on our highways is to slow all vehicles down, including large trucks,” ATA President and CEO Bill Graves said in response to the study.

“ATA petitioned FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration six years ago to mandate the use of speed limiters on all commercial motor vehicles manufactured since 1992 to save lives and make our industry safer. This study strengthens ATA’s case and we call on both agencies to swiftly move forward with rulemakings to ensure that these devices are required on as many trucks as possible.”

“Slowing down traffic is the most important step toward improving highway safety,” Graves continued. “For this reason, ATA’s policy calls for a national 65 mph speed limit for all vehicles and ATA’s broad safety agenda calls for a speed limiter mandate.

“The Department of Transportation should be commended for sponsoring this comprehensive field study and, in addition to using its findings, it should be a model for how all safety regulations are researched and supported. We hope in the future DOT will have the political will to recognize that speed is the single greatest contributor to highway crashes and prioritize its regulatory initiatives accordingly.”

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration late last year officially issued a “grant notice” on petitions filed in 2006 by ATA and another group.

The notice appeared in the Federal Register late last year and says that NHTSA will initiate the rulemaking process on the issue with a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking this year.

On the federal rulemaking management system, NHTSA says this about the proposed rule:

“This rulemaking would respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. In response, NHTSA requested public comment on the subject and received thousands of comments supporting the petitioners’ request. Based on the available safety data and the ancillary benefit of reduced fuel consumption, this rulemaking would consider a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks. We believe this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set. This rule would decrease the estimated 8,991 fatalities caused by crashes involving heavy trucks and buses. It would also increase the fleet fuel efficiency of these vehicles.”

Although listed timetables are rarely realized, NHTSA says it plans to have a proposed rule to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation this month.

Estimates on how many fleets use speed limiters ranges from 60 to 80 percent, the report says.

The Trucker staff can be reached to comment on this article at editor@thetrucker.com.

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