Speed Limiters: How to Minimize the Possible Impacts of a Mandate
By Sara Steele, Drivewyze Product Manager & Director, Compliance
The jury is still out on whether legislation requiring commercial vehicles to be equipped with and use speed limiting technology will become a reality.
It’s been talked about for years, but if recent developments are any indication, popularity for such a mandate appears to be growing among legislators. Earlier this year, The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives and, if adopted, the National Highway Traffic Administration would require commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with speed-limiting technology that would set a maximum speed of 65 mph or 70 mph with adaptive cruise control systems and automatic emergency braking systems.
The bill mirrors legislation introduced to the U.S. Senate in 2019, although it seems the government is now trying to be more proactive in reversing the trend of traffic deaths and collisions that have been increasing year after year. Whether a speed limiter mandate is the answer or not, some type of legislation aimed to reduce the number of serious incidents is on the horizon.
While improving traffic safety isn’t much of a debate, there is a legitimate concern for how a speed limiter mandate would affect the bottom line for fleets and owner-operators. Most states have a maximum speed limit of 65 mph for trucks, although there are some states, specifically in rural areas where trucks can travel above the maximum speed a speed limiter would allow.
In an industry that continues to push the boundary for what is possible in reducing delivery time, especially in dry van markets, any disruption for a driver to effectively move freight is noticed. As they say, time is money. Fortunately, technology designed to help drivers more efficiently move freight continues to evolve. And for those concerned about the possibility of a speed limiter mandate, there are services available that can help mitigate the potential impacts.
One of the easiest ways for drivers to save time on the road is by bypassing weigh stations. The average amount of time a driver spends at a weigh station is around 5 minutes, and if they get called in for a level 1 inspection, it can be up to 2 hours before the driver is back on the road again. With Drivewyze PreClear, for example, drivers can bypass Drivewyze-enabled bypass locations up to 98% of the time, which is dependent on a carrier’s safety score.
When a driver using PreClear approaches a Drivewyze-enabled weigh station locations, the driver will receive an alert on their ELD or smartphone that signals if they’re cleared to bypass the station. For many fleets and drivers, the time drivers gain back by not having to stop at select weigh stations makes a difference. The average driver using PreClear receives more than 130 bypasses a year, which equates to more than $1,200 in fuel and productivity-related savings.
But just as maintaining a solid safety score is key to negotiating insurance premiums, winning contract bids, and other areas of business, that holds true in maximizing the full potential of receiving bypass opportunities. From driver training, telematics, vehicle safety systems, proactive safety services, there is no shortage of technology and services designed to improve or maintain safety practices.
Fleets that prioritize their safety programs and use a variety of tools that help keep drivers informed and reinforces good driving behavior generally have more success creating opportunities to cut operating costs. Where travel times for drivers may be hindered at some capacity if in fact a speed limiter mandate is put in place, look at where you stand with safety and see if there’s room to grow. Plus, a company culture that cultivates safer drivers is better for our roads and the industry’s image.
Weigh station bypass is one service that helps drivers and fleets move freight more efficiently, but a new service Drivewyze is particularly excited about is the coming of electronic inspections. We believe it has the potential to completely revolutionize the way inspections are completed.
When drivers pull into weigh stations and are selected for inspection, drivers need to go through manual steps on an ELD to transfer their logs to the inspector, including entering the officer’s inspector code. It takes time and since it’s done manually and if there are any errors inputting the information, the driver will be handed a HOS violation. With e-Inspections, the HOS data is automatically transferred to the inspector. It can reduce a “clean” Level III inspection from a 30-minute detention to mere minutes.
So far, Maine, Maryland, Michigan, New Hampshire, and Virginia are up and running with the technology needed to process the information. As states see the benefits of e-Inspections – reducing detention time for drivers, while freeing up more time for inspectors to inspect drivers and trucks that truly do need extensive inspecting – more states will be inclined to adopt the new technology.
There may even come a time where fully electronic Level VIII inspections could be conducted. This is just the beginning for technology that will help inspectors better maintain highway safety and keep trucks moving.
By utilizing all the tools that are available to help improve operational efficiencies for trucks on the road, you can be in a better position to help offset some of the impacts new legislation may bring with it.