The formula for making deliveries as profitable as possible and adding more money to the bottom line seems easy enough: More weight + higher speed = more deliveries / month. The only problem is that there are limits on weight and speed, and exceeding those limits is both illegal and unsafe for commercial carriers. However, slowing down not only saves money, it saves lives and drastically reduces emissions.
“Fuel savings can be achieved and pollution reduced immediately if you order speed governors already installed on big trucks to be set at 65 mph,” wrote Steve Owings, President and co-founder of Roadsafe America. “Excessive speed is the largest single factor in reduced fuel mileage.”
“Every mile per hour above 50 mph reduces fuel mileage by one-tenth of 1 percent,” Owings explains. “If a truck’s speed drops from 75 mph down to 65 mph, studies show it is able to gain one mile per gallon, which may not seem like much to a small car, but to a truck that only gets six miles to the gallon, that is a very significant impact.”
A ten-mile-an-hour speed reduction will literally save one driver thousands of gallons of fuel every year.
The environmental benefits of going 65 mph instead of 75 mph are enormous. According to ATA’s sustainability plan, a truck traveling at 75 mph consumes 27 percent more fuel than one going at 65 mph. Bringing speed limits for trucks down to 65 mph would save 2.8 billion gallons of diesel fuel in a decade and reduce CO2 emissions by 31.5 million tons — equal to a year’s CO2 generated by 9 million Americans.
Safety is another huge benefit of lower maximum speed limits. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, states that increased their speed limits in 1996 experienced an approximate nine percent increase in highway fatalities. Fatalities in states that did not increase speed limits remained consistent with pre-1996 trends. Another study found a 13 percent increase in the risk of traffic fatalities in states with speed limits greater than 65 mph.
A reduced maximum speed on our nation’s interstates would save thousands of lives every year.
President Barack Obama has ordered the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Transportation Department to develop national standards for big truck fuel economy and reduced emissions by 2014. The objective: To increase fuel efficiency while decreasing greenhouse gas pollution caused by heavy commercial vehicles. More lives saved comes as a built-in benefit of these measures.
But many advocates of the new measures, including the American Trucking Associations (ATA), wonder: why wait until 2014 to reap all the benefits of a reduced maximum speed?