Excessive speed in big rigs is a huge problem.
Statistics show that in over 50% of accidents involving big trucks, speed is a contributing factor, and in many cases the cause of the crash.
Big trucks do not stop as quickly as cars and require a lot more room to do so.
If you combine the greater stopping distance and mix it in with other factors such as hitting a patch of ice or being cut off by a car, you’ve got instant disaster.
And of course, the faster the truck is moving, the worse the outcome can be.
Also when you’re driving a big vehicle, things are going to happen around you, things which are beyond your control, such as inclement weather or crazy four-wheelers.
The best way to combat these problems and reduce your odds of being involved in an accident is by controlling your speed.
One of the best ways to manage your speed on dry roads while interstate driving, is by using the cruise control.
In this post, we’re going to explore what truckers need to know about using the cruise control option on their truck to control their speed.
Tips For Using Cruise Control
1. Proof of Legal Speed
Typically, I set the cruise control slightly below the posted speed limit.
By placing the cruise in this setting, it gives me an ample space in front of the truck. When the cars want to hurry by and pass me, it leaves that nice safety zone in front of the truck.
Set the cruise at a comfortable, safe speed and let the limiter keep you from losing track of how fast you’re moving.
If you do become involved in an accident when you have the cruise control feature engaged, the ECM of the truck will indicate you were traveling legally within the speed limit.
This can be a vital piece of information for the investigators of the accident. Plus, you can download your recorded speed from the ECM at the time.
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2. Bad Weather
When the weather or road conditions suddenly turn bad (this can happen often), it’s much easier to control the truck if you’re not traveling too fast in the first place.
At the very moment the road surface changes from dry to something else, I turn off the cruise right away by flipping the cruise control switch off, not by tapping the brake pedal.
Related > 9 Things Truckers Should Know About Dealing With Dangerous Weather Conditions
3. Slippery Roads
Running the cruise on slippery roads is never a good idea.
Some trucking companies will have strict policies on this.
Some carriers will even fire a driver if they are involved in a severe weather accident and the ECM shows the driver had the cruise engaged at the time of the crash.
With traffic flow patterns today and the pressure from dispatch to hurry, don’t allow yourself to be duped into traveling too fast. You’ll be the one to pay the price should something go wrong.
Remember, you’re the one responsible for being in control of the vehicle.
Only use the cruise control on completely dry road conditions.
The moment the road surface changes from a dry state, immediately turn off the cruise setting.
If a truck is traveling with the cruise setting engaged and the truck hits a patch of ice, it can be fatal.
Related > How to Climb a Slippery Grade in a Big Rig
4. Speed Limiter Laws
Some states and provinces are attempting to implement speed limiters for big rigs.
I am NOT in favor of speed limiters for big trucks.
There are numerous occasions where a truck needs to accelerate to get out of trouble or to pass another vehicle.
Speed limiters take control away from the truck driver. I am completely against anything which takes power away from the driver.
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5. Controlling Your Speed With Cruise Control
One of the best ways to avoid being involved in an accident is to be in control of your speed.
It is much easier to correct the position of the truck and trailer at 60 mph rather than 70 mph.
Benefits of Using Cruise Control on Big Trucks
- Engaging the cruise allows the driver to concentrate more on what’s going on around the truck and other aspects of driving.
- The speed limiter on the cruise control will regulate the speed of the truck.
- It can be challenging to retain a constant speed, so the cruise helps to keep the truck’s speed consistent.
- It is easy to lean into the fuel pedal, and thus the truck will travel more quickly. Using using the cruise control will help prevent this from happening.
- Traveling more slowly saves fuel and is easier on the truck. Most importantly it keeps the truck driver in control of the vehicle. Nothing is more critical to a professional driver.
Related > Our 10 Best Safe Driving Tips
There have been countless times during my truck driving career, where I have been able to prevent being involved in an accident because I was traveling slower than the traffic around me.
Excessive speed never saved me any time.
Nor did I make any more money going faster.
But driving more slowly, DID help me miss and avoid at least hundreds of accidents during my four million miles of travel.
Slow and steady has saved me thousands of times over, and it can work for you, too!