Friday, June 13, 2008

The only thing limited here is brainpower

You can always count on truckers to come up with reasons for or against something that you never thought of.

The debate over speed limiters has been no exception.

The big argument being pursued now in Canada is the green one – that speed limiters will save fuel and cut emissions.

One trucker who called in ran the numbers. And he points out that if big carriers are interested in saving fuel and cutting emissions, why not install an APU on every truck in their fleet?

That would save far more fuel than the limiters would. Again, he ran the numbers – and it’s not just a little more savings … it’s a huge savings over what limiters would do.

Yet larger carriers are often the slowest to adapt use of APUs or other idle-reduction technology. We hear from company drivers every day who don’t have any alternative to idling on their trucks.

The fact is, the large carriers who are pushing for speed limiters do it for this reason:

Their bean counters have determined a speed that they think is optimum for fuel mileage. Mind you, this is a figure that leaves out the effect of driving techniques on fuel mileage, but that’s what they arrive at.

So the company limits its trucks to that speed.

Well, turns out many truckers don’t like to drive limited trucks. So recruiting becomes tough. Those truckers who don’t like the limiters sign on with other companies.

So how does a big carrier solve this dilemma? By getting their government to pass a law forcing all trucks to have limiters. If all companies are the same, there’s no recruiting advantage.

The best way to do that? Take some hot-button words – safety, environment, green – and plug what you want into those issues.

Let’s face it folks – speed limiters don’t make you safer, they don’t make you greener and the environment won’t get any better if you have them. There are things that accomplish those goals, but this isn’t it.

There is science for these conclusions – studies conducted, for example, by Professor Stephen Johnson of the University of Arkansas.

His research shows that while the one limited truck may use less fuel and put out less in emissions, because the rest of the traffic has to accelerate and brake and then accelerate again to get around it, they all use more.

Want to get green? Buy an APU. That will actually have an effect.

The arguments used to support speed limiters are false. Those debate points are created to hide the real reasoning; they are smoke and mirrors, a magician’s trick meant to distract you with illusion so you don’t notice the reality that’s about to bite you in the behind.

It’s time to shatter this illusion, break down this false argument, and stop a proposal that will do the exact opposite of its stated purpose.