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Speed limiters, automatic braking on NTSB Most Wanted List

Safety agency continues to pressure regulators to require speed limiters on trucks

NTSB wants regulators to move on speed limiter rules. (Photo: Jim Allen/FreightWaves)

The National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) is keeping pressure on regulators to require speed limiters on trucks as well as performance standards for automatic emergency braking (AEB) and other crash-avoidance technology.

Those policy goals were once again included on the safety agency’s latest Most Wanted List of top 10 transportation safety improvements for 2021-22. Speed limiter recommendations were on NTSB’s 2019-20 list, and AEB has been singled out as a top 10 improvement since 2016.

Recommendations were also made for marine, rail and aviation safety.

“Board members of the NTSB and our advocacy team continuously seek opportunities to communicate about items on our Most Wanted List (MWL),” said NTSB Chairman Robert Sumwalt on Tuesday. “As we begin advocacy efforts for the 2021-2022 MWL, we call upon our advocacy partners to amplify our safety messages and help us bring about the safety improvements that will make transportation safer for us all.”

NTSB noted that speeding-related crashes resulted in nearly 100,000 fatalities between 2009 and 2018, close to one-third of all traffic fatalities in the U.S. The agency contends that the extent of the problem is likely underestimated because speed-related crash reporting is inconsistent.

“Speed limiters on large trucks, automated enforcement, expert speed analysis tools and education campaigns are underused in our communities,” the agency stated. “These critical tools and strategies must be implemented to address this safety problem.”

The NTSB recommended that regulators:

  • Develop performance standards for advanced speed-limiting technology, such as variable speed limiters and intelligent speed adaptation devices, for heavy vehicles, including trucks, buses and motorcoaches, and then require that all newly manufactured heavy vehicles be equipped with such devices.
  • Collaborate with traffic safety stakeholders to develop and implement an ongoing program to increase public awareness of speeding as a national traffic safety issue.
  • Revise regulations to strengthen requirements for all speed engineering studies and remove the guidance that speed limits in speed zones be within 5 mph of the 85th percentile speed.
  • Update speed enforcement guidelines to reflect the latest automated speed enforcement technologies and operating practices and promote these guidelines.

As it has over the last five years, NTBS also placed requirements for collision-avoidance and connected-vehicle technology on its most-wanted safety improvement list, citing AEB and forward-collision warning devices specifically.

“Yet, most passenger vehicles and commercial vehicles (such as heavy-duty trucks and school buses) on the road today are not equipped — nor required to be equipped — with such lifesaving technologies,” it stated. “The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not developed comprehensive performance standards for these technologies, nor does it effectively evaluate them and include this information in its vehicle safety ratings.”

For commercial vehicles, NTSB recommended that regulators:

  • Complete standards for collision-warning and AEB systems in commercial vehicles and require this technology in all highway vehicles and all new school buses.
  • Develop performance standards for connected-vehicle technology and restart the proposed rulemaking to require this technology be installed on all newly manufactured highway vehicles.

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  1. Mack

    I agree with all the comments here. I’ve been driving big rigs since 1995. I am now forced to drive a Volvo truck with the adaptive cruise control, lane departure, collision avoidance breaking and the extremely annoying beeping sound whenever there is a vehicle ( or a cement barrier on a curved on ramp and off ramp) three lengths of truck in front. So here it is: The constant loud beeping sound adds stress to driving, it’s annoying. Can’t shut it off. It also turns off the sound of your radio while it’s beeping! I don’t need a constant reminder that there is something in front of me. I have eyes and brain for that. My eyes haven’t failed me yet. The adaptive cruise control and radar stop working after 5 minutes of snowstorm. Thankfully I don’t use it, but there is a whole new generation of drivers who rely on tech too much ( like GPS, etc), so I can forecast a lot of accidents happening this way. The lane departure thankfully can be turned off for a time with a button. Now let me tell you about the automatic breaking. It happened several times to me that on the hwy, when I was changing lanes to overtake a slow moving car, or truck, the edge of the radar field ( which is for some reason wider than your truck!) still caught the back of the vehicle I was passing and my truck applied hard breaking! Now imagine that you want to get around a vehicle but there is a lot of traffic in the left lane. Someone signals with their lights that they let you in. This is at interstate speed. You start easibg in, you’re halfway, or more in the left lane already and suddenly without warning your truck brakes like it’s an emergency! That happened to me, thankfully without anybody behind me. These pencil pushers are high on technology, but we cannot rely on the tech. It is actually interfering with the safe operation of the rigs. If you want safer trucks, concentrate on the training and stop importing steering wheel holders from south Asia, or if you do import them, have a rigorous driving and cultural training plan ready.

  2. Wendell Hunt

    65 speed limits on trucks are outrageous and ridiculous. Those same trucks haul 80,000 pounds of different things. Are you going to put speed limiters on automobiles also. That crashes too, leave trucking alone and stop trying to punish the whole industry for a few.

  3. Me

    Clearly the desk jockeys got it all figured out! Some stupid pr!ck. Worry about your desk being level. Or not spilling you coffee on your dress (men and women wear dresses there.)

  4. Raymond Taylor

    The beeping and buzzing just causes huge stress when cars are weeving in and out in front of you. And the automatic braking almost got me killed when some one cut in front of me and caused my brakes to lock up and jack knife on the interstate. This was two years ago so not that long ago, this was the MERITOR WABCO system. I quit that day.

  5. Jarek

    The anti collision systems don’t work. When I had it in my company truck it only caused high stress and aggravation since majority of activations were false and actually increased the risk of being on the road, for example hard automated breaking as soon as I moved to the left lane to pass. Winter conditions are another problem as stated above. Instead of this unproven and unreliable technology focus should be put on truck driver training and other drivers awareness of the dangers of heavy trucks on the road, example distance required for breaking. One of the reasons I stopped being a company driver was this unproven and dangerous technology put in trucks that actually makes driving them more dangerous and stressful. It all sounds good on the paper but doesn’t work in real life. Whenever I rent a car I turn all this crap off, unfortunately the trucks don’t have this option.

  6. Hoyt Wilson

    This “None sense” with the collision avoidance system can cause more problems than expected.
    When winter hits and there is black ice on the highways and you have 4 wheelers cutting you off that collision avoidance system will cause a jack knife or more serious accident “WOW”… what ding bat is thinking of this mess.Truckers are more regulated than 4wheelers. Maybe they need to do all this regulations mess on personal cars an let’s see how far this goes. I have been a driver for 37 years, The main cause of truckers having wrecks an killing them selves is because of drivers avoiding 4wheelers an being cut off.

    1. Max MacDuffy

      There is a simple solution to vehicles that pull in front of another without safe space. Have their engine derate and coast to the side of the road where it will automatically reset after 15 minutes. Gives them some time to think about their squirrely driving and penalizes their driving habits. After that happening a couple times, these drivers will learn to drive more sanely no matter whether they pull in front of a big rig or someone elses grandmother.

  7. Bill Nasby

    AEB…”life-saving technology”? What a joke. Who dreams up this nonsense? I won’t drive a truck with any “collision avoidance” system. Go ahead and automate trucks but stay out of my truck with your damned computers.

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.