Maximum Speed

By: b,

Truck Operations IdeaMy trucking company decreased my truck’s maximum speed. My truck went from being able to go 71 mph to stuttering along at 63. This adds insult to the injury of the HOS change! What can I do?

Response from Vicki:

Hello, B,

Thanks for asking a question on our truck operations page.

If you are a company driver driving a company-owned truck, there may be [nothing] you can do about this. Your company owns the truck and is therefore at liberty to decide how it will be operated.

There are many restrictions to earning money as a professional truck driver, including but not limited to the Hours of Service regulation, traffic, weather and construction. Your top governed speed is also a cap on your paycheck, that is your trucker’s income.

From where we stand, you have only 4 options:

1. Stay in your position with your company and stay subject to their rules;
2. Drive for another trucking company;
3. Become an owner-operator to run your truck your way; or
4. Leave professional truck driving.

One thing you can do is to tell your driver manager that since your maximum speed has been cut back, here is a potential impact on your performance:

If, with a truck that could do 71 mph, you were able to maintain an average speed of, say, 55 mph for an 11-hour driving shift, then you could theoretically travel 605 miles per day.

If your truck has been cut back to a maximum speed of 63 mph, that’s about an 11% cut in speed, then perhaps your average speed could be, say, 49 mph over the same 11-hour driving shift, which would allow you theoretically to travel 539 miles per day. That’s a difference of 66 miles per day.

That 66 miles represents:
* over an hour of driving that you can’t travel every day;
* during a 6-day work week, 396 miles;
* at 37 cents per mile, that’s $146.52 per week that you didn’t get to earn; and
* over the course of a 50-week year (not counting 2 weeks of vacation), that’s $7,326
that you didn’t earn.

Of course, these figures are purely hypothetical and you should do the math based on your own figures.

The obvious question is why does a trucking company cut back the maximum speed on their trucks in the first place?

Mike said that he read an article that stated that supposedly, cutting back the maximum speed of trucks is done under the guise of safety. While he is all for safety — and thinks that all drivers must be safe — his opinion differs.

What is the difference between having a split speed limit imposed by [government] and a split speed limit imposed by the [governor] on one’s truck?

We remember very well the days when we drove for Swift Transportation when the maximum speed that the trucks could do was 57 mph. [Everything] passed us (except other Swift trucks). Of course, some time after we left that company, someone decided to raise the maximum speed.

Mike thinks that some trucking companies put profits over people. We hope your company isn’t one of those.

One thing that you may want to try is to renegotiate your pay rate. If your trucking company is going to “dock” your pay by restricting your speed, then perhaps you can get paid more for other tasks, such as through pay for:
* mileage;
* hourly rate;
* loading/unloading; and
* tarping your load (if applicable), etc.

We wish you the best success as you seek to replace the income that you’re going to lose as a result of the cut in speed. Write back to let us know how things are going for you.

In the meantime, we wish you safe travels and lots of money saving opportunities on the road.

Best regards,
Vicki Simons