Fleet News

The Big Picture: Speed


Companies that wish to prevent their van drivers from excessive speeding often turn to speed limiters.

Usually these are set at 70mph, particularly if the fleet in question is a heavy user of motorways. Sometimes they are set at 60mph while, in a few cases, the limiter is calibrated to 56mph. Setting the limiter below motorway speeds usually occurs when the vans are mainly used on A and B roads.

In addition to preventing drivers from excessive speeds, companies also benefit from significant fuel savings – a vehicle travelling 60mph instead of 70mph uses up to 9% less fuel, for instance.

Those wishing to introduce a more comprehensive method of controlling vehicle speeds will mix a speed limiter with a rev limiter, which prevents drivers from over-revving their engine – often the worst cause of fuel consumption.

Both these approaches are pre-dominantly used for vans; few companies have the inclination to tackle their company car drivers, even if the fleet manager recommends it. It’s likely to lead to uproar and accusations of infringing upon human rights. But since when was it a right to break the law by speeding?

The European Commission could be about to step in. It is proposing that all cars, including those already on the road, are fitted with speed limiter technology in an attempt to cut road deaths.

It’s a laudable aspiration and those fleets which have already fitted speed limiters say that, combined with driver training, they do help to reduce accident rates. A typical car stops 23 metres sooner at 60mph versus 70mph – the equivalent of six car lengths - of which three metres alone is the ‘thinking’ time before pressing the brake.

From a safety (and fuel saving) perspective, what’s not to like?

Ask transport secretary Patrick McLoughlin who plans to fight any attempt to mandate speed limiters. His department describes the proposal as “Big Brother nannying by EU bureaucrats".

I’m not a fan of nannying either, but if this helps to save lives, then it’s worth considering rather than dismissing out of hand like the Department for Transport appears to be doing.

And what of the suggestion by the AA among others that limiting speed to the permitted level for a particular road could take away people's ability to get themselves “out of trouble with a quick burst of speed, such as in overtaking situations where the capacity to accelerate can avoid a head-on collision”?

If you can’t over-take safety without speeding, arguably you’re at fault for making an ill-advised manoeuvre. Defensive driving should negate any need for “quick bursts of speed” – it’s certainly not in any training manual I’ve read.


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