Do All Tractor-Trailers Have Speed Governors?

Do All Tractor-Trailers Have Speed Governors?

Most of us have heard the warning that speed kills. It’s not just a catchy saying. It’s the truth. Car drivers often fear sharing the road with truckers. While they do so for many reasons, one big one is because they’ve seen the destruction that can occur when large trucks and passenger cars collide — especially if one or both vehicles are traveling at a high rate of speed.

Concerns about these crashes are one of the reasons why motorists often inquire, “Do all tractor-trailers have speed governors?” Continue reading where we’ll discuss what these are and whether all trucks come equipped with them.

What Is a Speed Limiter?

These governors or limiters refer to electronic control systems that monitor a trucker’s speed, sending a message to their tractor’s internal computer that they’re approximating a pre-designated maximum speed. Upon receiving this message, a series of processes kick in, which include a restriction of the flow of air and fuel, which adversely impacts a trucker’s ability to travel faster than a certain speed.

How Big of an Issue Is Speeding Among Truckers?

Data published by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) in 2020 described speeding as the leading driver-related factor contributing to traffic fatalities. At least 18.8% of passenger car drivers and 7.3% of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) operators nationwide died because someone drove faster than they should have.

Additional FMCSA research from 2022 detailed the federal agency’s concerns about CMVs and speeding. They shared that, in 2019, 860 fatal accidents occurred in 70 to 75 MPH zones. Another 24 traffic fatalities occurred in areas where the posted speed limit was between 80 to 85. In all, an estimated 20% of deadly crashes involving CMVs happened in zones with either one of these posted speed limits.

Are Speed Limiters Widely Installed on Large Trucks?

Generally speaking, unless there’s a law, rule, or regulation on the books requiring motor vehicles to come equipped with certain technology, each and every automobile is not going to have it. Recommendations haven’t proven fruitful in motivating truckers and fleet companies to get on board and make changes. Only mandates appear to, and even still, some still take their changes and violate rules to save money and time.

Take, for example, advocacy groups’ efforts to mandate guards on tractor-trailers to prevent underride crashes. While rear guards have long been mandatory, side ones still are not, although the federal government is inching ever closer to requiring them.

The same goes for speed governors. The 2022 FMCSA data described above was accompanied by details about a Notice of Intent regarding speed limiters. It outlined plans for imposing speed limitations on certain CMVs involved in interstate commerce.

That announcement outlined how manufacturers had begun installing electronic engine control units (ECUs) on 18-wheelers dating back to 2003, and thus, many trucks already came equipped with them. The plan was to do even more to curb high-speed truck accidents, though.

So yes, while many later model tractor-trailers have these governors installed on them that are capable of regulating their speed, it raises the question, how many big rigs that rolled off the assembly line before this that don’t have them do we share the road with?

Also, how many auto manufacturers didn’t opt to install these on their trucks from 2003 forward? The answers to some of these questions may be unclear.

Regulations Regarding Speed Governors

As mentioned above, the dangers associated with speeding and driving, especially among CMV operators, like truckers, have long been a concern among federal regulators. This likely led to recommendations to install ECUs dating back to 2003, and then it has certainly led to the federal agency revisiting the benefits of using those speed limiters as recently as 2019.

In just the past few years, the FMCSA shared that they planned to announce a speed limiter rule in mid-2023. That self-imposed deadline came and went, and then the agency set another deadline for Dec. 29, 2023. That timeline also passed with no rule being made.

The latest time frame when the announcement was slated to occur was in late May 2024, just last month. There’s no news out of Washington yet; however, at the same time, industry analysts suggest those deadlines aren’t set in stone anyway.

It should be noted that even though the federal government hasn’t yet issued a rule mandating speed limiters, some states have already made them mandatory.

What To Do If a Speeding Motorist Struck and Injured You or Caused Your Loved One’s Death

While speed governors aren’t yet required of all truckers nationwide, intrastate truckers, which are short-haul truckers who travel from and return to their home hubs daily, may already be required to drive trucks with them, depending on the state.

Even if these ECUs aren’t yet mandatory, adhering to posted speed limits is.

If a trucker who was operating a tractor-trailer that didn’t yet have one of these devices drove much faster than they should have, causing you to suffer catastrophic injuries in a truck accident in Boise or elsewhere in the Pacific Northwest, reach out to us at Trucking Injury Law Group to learn more about your rights to hold them liable for doing so.

Meeting with an attorney for a consultation to discuss your potential case won’t cost you anything.