Trucks Slow Down for Profits, Not for Safety

cargo truck driving on highway quickly

As diesel prices near $4 a gallon, commercial truck carriers are taking steps to cut fuel costs by maximizing the miles per gallon rate that their trucks are getting. Many of these truck companies are setting standards for expected miles per gallon achievement and then teaching their drivers how to adhere to them. Others are taking measures to regulate drivers’ speed through the use of speed governors.

Several factors contribute to better gas mileage including lower speed and maintaining a steady, non-fluctuating pace. When companies place a speed governor on one of their commercial trucks, they can set a maximum speed for the truck. This cannot be altered by the truck driver. Through the use of speed governors, GPS devices and electronic on-board recording devices that show how long a truck has been driven, the dispatch of a trucking company can be aware of the location of each truck they own and how fast it is traveling.

Savings vs. Safety

Truck safety advocate groups like Road Safe America have been trying for years to have speed governors added to all commercial trucks, citing the dangers of an 80,000-pound behemoth barreling down the road at unregulated speeds. Road Safe America has supported legislation that would mandate placement of the governors in all semi-trucks, similar to the regulation in Europe and Canada. Now, facing increasing fuel costs, carriers are willingly placing the speed governors on their trucks. While the main intention of the speed governors seems to be saving money, increased safety could be a happy byproduct as truckers are forced to decrease speeds. At worst, however, the regulators could heighten the risk of truck accidents.

The majority of truck drivers are paid by the mile or by the load, so the decrease in speed might cost them wages they could have otherwise attained. To offset this financial loss, some drivers may drive for longer than the hours of service laws allow. This could lead to more fatigued truck drivers on the road. The increase of fuel efficiency and safety is important, but it could spell danger for every person on the roadway.

One bonus is that as the trucking industry saves on fuel costs, some companies are passing some of the savings on to their drivers in the form of fuel incentives or bonuses. However, in some instances, it seems safety may still be at odds with savings.

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If you or someone you know has involved in an accident with a commercial truck that may have been speeding, please contact us for a free consultation. We will review your situation and help you plan the best course for your case. For information about our previous verdicts, view our case results here.

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