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July 13, 2012  |   Comments (3)   |   Post a comment

NTSB calls for speed limiters on trucks, buses

By Thomas McMahon


New trucks and buses should be equipped with advanced speed-limiting technology, according to a new recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB).

The recommendation stems from NTSB's investigation of the March 2011 motorcoach crash in New York City that killed 15 people.

NTSB found that the speed limit at the accident location was 50 mph, but the motorcoach driver was traveling 64 mph after departing the travel lanes of the highway.

"Had he been driving at or below the speed limit (50 mph), he may have been able to steer the bus away from the guardrail, preventing the rollover and collision with the vertical highway signpost," the agency said in an investigation synopsis.

The motorcoach was equipped with a speed limiter, but it was set to 78 mph.

NTSB noted that although there is "significant interest" in the use of advanced speed-limiting technology, there are no federal performance standards that address the technology or require it in heavy vehicles.

Accordingly, the agency recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) 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.

After establishing the performance standards, NHTSA should require such devices in all newly manufactured heavy vehicles, NTSB recommended.

The safety board made numerous other recommendations in response to the New York City crash. One calls on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to require that states retain on the Commercial Driver’s License Information System driver record all convictions, disqualifications and other licensing actions for violations during the prior 10 years.

While the motorcoach's speed was cited as a contributing factor, NTSB found that the probable cause of the accident was the driver's "failure to control the motorcoach due to fatigue resulting from failure to obtain adequate sleep, poor sleep quality and the time of day at which the accident occurred [about 5:38 a.m.]."

For the full NTSB accident report and recommendations, go here.

Last fall, NTSB issued the results of a six-month study on curbside motorcoach safety that was initiated after the New York City motorcoach crash.

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Read more about: driver fatigue, fatalities, motorcoach/charter buses, NHTSA, NTSB

After reading Marc Ellisons comment I think my question was answered! Thanks again.

Lisa Light    |    Jul 18, 2012 05:47 PM

School Bus Driver here, just wondering if these speed limiters are set as max speeds? Or if they can be changed either by the Driver or company supervisor? What if one needed to increase the speed in order to avoid an accident? Thank You!

Lisa Light    |    Jul 18, 2012 05:44 PM

Becuase we manufacture programmable road speed limiters for Ford and GM chassis (max. speed can be set anywhere between 10 and 80 mph) we will be following this recommendation closely. We developed a working prototype that tied in to a GPS system and changed the maximum vehicle speed based on posted speed limits. Curious to know if that would interest other potential users of speed limiters.

Marc Ellison    |    Jul 18, 2012 08:16 AM

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