Why Do Truckers Drive Slow?

The other day while I was in line at a fast food restaurant, I had a gentleman ask me if I was a truck driver.  I told him I was trucker and he asked me this question of why do some truck drivers drive so slowly?  Here’s my quick and easy answer;

If we consider that the maximum weight “most” semi truck’s and trailers can gross, on average that is 80,000 lbs. by state and federal regulations.  With that amount of weight, going up even the smallest of hills, at times cause you to bog down, and the engine of the semi truck just isn’t strong enough to maintain highway speed.

After I answered this gentlemen’s question, he was happy I could help him understand.  Then I started thinking about additional reasons that cause truckers to drive slowly.  A couple of these reasons you may be shocked to know about, so don’t stop reading here to know about them.

More Reasons Why Truckers Drive Slow

With the above-mentioned gross weight of a semi-truck.  This is usually number one.  Though there is another reason that is close to being number one.  I think maybe this depends more on the area that you live in.

In a mountainous area, my original answer was accepted by the gentlemen that asked the question.  Though if you live in an area that is mostly flat ground.  The answer I provided in the above may not make any sense to you.

Another reason, truck driver’s drive slow is because in a lot of areas.  Commercial Vehicles (semi-trucks and trailers) are required by state law to travel at a lesser posted speed limit than regular cars or pickup trucks for example.

Many times, you can see a sign posted that says 65 mph, then a brief moment later you’ll see another posted speed limit sign that says “Truck(s) 55 mph”.  Or something of this nature that provides a difference of posted speed limits.

Following the rules and regulations as a trucker sometimes causes travelers to become upset with you just because you are following the rules and regulations that many do not understand.

Not only do they not understand the rules and regulations pertaining to semi-trucks and the truckers that drive them.  But there is no reason for them to really need to know these rules and regulations.

Some trucking companies, company semi-trucks are governed at a particular traveling speed this can range from 55 mph to 70 mph.  With an abundance of the more big-name trucking companies being around the 63 mph to 64 mph mark.

When we take this into account.  You can quickly see why some truckers are just not capable of maintaining a posted speed limit in your area.  Near you, in your area, if the posted speed limit is anything higher than 65 mph for all vehicle types.

Governed semi-trucks maximum allowed speeds are in place for a few reasons:

  • Provide safer roadways for travelers. Consider, some methods trucking companies attempt to make trucking a little bit safer for travelers on roadways.  By restricting the maximum allowed speed of a semi-truck while traveling down a highway for example.  A semi-truck that weighs 80,000 pounds as maximum gross vehicle weight.  Under normal conditions, will stop quicker at 65 mph versus 75 mph.

 

  • Reduce insurance costs for Trucking Companies. This could be the difference of a thousand dollars or more per semi-truck in a trucking companies’ fleet.  Some trucking companies use this saved money for various things, like being able to afford to pay additional company drivers.  Maintaining equipment, bonuses, and this list could be endless.

 

  • Additionally, when we think of cost savings, many trucking companies also put speed limiters on their company-owned semi-trucks for the fuel savings. Most semi-trucks traveling at a greater speed, also consume more fuel.  By restricting the max speed level of semi-trucks.  These trucking companies feel and can prove they are saving money in fuel costs.

 

  • Along with fuel cost savings, there are additional costs, like wear and tear, maintenance and all these types of things. That can be joined together into this segment.  To show how to save money.  A vehicle that travels at a faster speed more often is more likely to have malfunctions sooner rather than later.  With these malfunctions, come expenses associated with them in one form or another.

 

  • Help Trucking Companies reduce safety ratings like CSA Scores (Compliance, Safety and Accountability Score). This score is graded by the FMCSA to evaluate if a trucking company is a high risk (dangerous to the public).  The higher this number, the more likely an intervention with authorities and after the audit, the more likely a trucking company with a high CSA score could be put out of business and shut down.

 

  • Along with trucking companies governing their company-owned semi-trucks and trailers speeds. Between the FMCSA and the NHTSA (National Highway Safety Administration) are also in the processes of possibly bringing about a mandated set governed speed for all commercial vehicles.  This could mean that whether trucking companies govern their trucks or not, the American Government may make it a requirement sometime within the next few years.

 

From time to time, it’s just a truck driver, driving slowly down the roadway.  Though, from the above mentioned.  It’s easy to see that maybe the trucker is restricted and forced to drive slowly.  Plus, safety should always be everyone’s first priority when traveling across the roadways.

Understanding the above, maybe it will help you become more knowledgeable of why a semi-truck driver near you is traveling at the speed he or she is.

 

Why Do Truckers Drive In The Middle Lane?

At times on my trucker trips, I come up behind another trucker in the middle lane driving slowly or holding up traffic.  What many don’t understand is that most likely there is a legitimate reason for this.  Sometimes, there just really is not a valid reason for this.

Let’s start with the non-valid reasons.  I tend to see, in my own opinion, that the non-valid reasons usually lean more towards a local company driver attempting to milk the time clock at the cost of their company and the traffic that surrounds them.

How this relates to the middle lane, is that often, these truckers just happen to be found in the middle lane.  To be honest, I do not know why they do not utilize the right lane.  However, it is what it is.

Now, let’s talk about the legitimate reasons.  Currently, I drive a 2019 Freightliner Cascadia with an automatic transmission.  It has 12 gears.  Also, it is governed at 67 miles per hour.  I cannot go faster than this on flat ground or up any size of a hill.

Every time I slow down for merging traffic, it can take me a little bit of time to gain momentum and to get back up to highway speed.  So, if I’m traveling in a state where there is a split speed limit (one speed limit for cars, and a different speed limit for semi trucks) we can quickly see why this is viewed as driving slowly.

At the same time, if it’s a heavily populated traffic jam that is moving slow.  Being a semi-truck driver in the middle lane is possibly the safest place to be.  Now some will argue this, and I can argue both sides as well.  Though in heavy traffic that is moving slow (under 10 mph).  Me being in the middle lane is safer than being in the right lane.

Since if I am in the right lane, when a ramp merges back onto the highway, being in the right lane I can without a doubt guarantee I will be cut off and forced to slam on my brakes at least twice every minute or every other minute.  It never fails.  Cars at times feel they deserve to be in front of semi trucks for reasons I am unsure of.

This is the nature of the traffic jam beast.  Everyone wants to be first.  First, to wait, first to something, I’m not sure.

By being in the middle lane, I may not have to slow down so often, but I have to maintain an awareness of everything going on around my semi truck.  In front, in the back, on the sides, everything as much as possible.

On the opposing side of this spectrum, a vehicle that is in the process of breaking down has a better chance of exiting the roadway travel lanes by being in the right lane than in any other lane.  If a semi truck breaks down in the middle lane.

Usually, a large traffic jam becomes the outcome of it.  Plus, with personal vehicles (your car) zipping around, it makes exiting the travel lanes almost impossible.

The left side, of a semi truck, is super easy for a trucker to see down through a mirror.  I can lean a little to the left and even see down the side of my door without using a mirror if need be.  Though the right side, or passenger side, tends to have more blind spots.  I can’t lean to look as much, I have only the mirrors on that side to use for referencing/seeing.

One other idea to mention here.  Over-sized semi trucks at times may have to be in the middle lane.  They are permitted by the state to travel on very particular routes during very specific time frames.

If an over-sized semi truck is in the middle lane, it is usually because of a safety reason.  The amount of overhang on an oversize load can vary.  Here are some reasons why over-sized haulers and regular truckers get into the middle lane;

  • Emergency Equipment on the shoulder (state and federal laws, slow down and merge over)
  • Broke down vehicle, (state and federal laws, slow down and merge over)
  • Pedestrian biking, hiking, walking, etc. on the shoulder.
  • Construction Equipment occupying shoulder (State and Federal laws, slow down and or merge over)
  • An object on shoulder restricting the ability to safely pass by without collision or incident.

These are some good examples.  Another reason for traveling in the middle lane as a semi truck driver.  Is because there are restricted lanes enforced for commercial vehicles from time to time.  When there are lane restrictions in place, sometimes truckers must be in the right lane.

Other times, truckers may need to be in the middle lane or a different lane.  These restrictions are normally posted on a sign or two before the actual area restriction is in place and enforced by police agencies.

At some points, a truck driver may know in advance that the right lane merges into the middle lane.  Where then the middle lane becomes the right lane.  To be safe and promote self-awareness of this upcoming event.

A truck driver may merge into the middle lane a mile or two in advance.  Just so that that they are in the lane they will need to be in, without causing any type of hazardous situation in a last-minute scenario.

This isn’t to slow you down in any manner.  This is to maintain the ability to promote safe travels for semi truck drivers and the general public.

 

Why Do Truck Driver’s Block Lanes?

This tends to occur more often around construction zones when traffic signs have been posted for a few miles.  Informing the traffic of a lane closure up ahead.  Is this legal or not legal I am unsure.

What is supposed to occur, is that the “traffic” from the lane closures up ahead are supposed to take turns merging into the specified lane.  However, what should happen and what does happen is normally nothing alike.

Usually, there will be some truckers that feel they are going to police the take turn etiquette policies.  While RV Campers, Cars, Pickup Trucks, Vans, SUVs and even some truck drivers feel they deserve to be first, ahead of the traffic backup.

Why anyone feels to be either is beyond me.  However, what occurs with this example is the take turn policy gets tossed aside.  Before we know it, vehicles are driving on the shoulder to get ahead of the traffic back up.  This causes a flood of traffic at the original merging point.

If traffic were to merge prior to this, by taking turns.  None of this would be happening and traffic would flow at a steady pace.

Another reason why truckers block traveling lanes.  Is because they have been asked to do so by police officials.  Or without being asked in order to prevent a serious injury.

Someone that is stuck on an overpass or that is attempting to commit suicide from a bridge or platform.  These individuals may be wanting to only harm themselves.  If they do indeed jump, the impact of their body into your vehicle will also harm you.

Both physically and mentally you will suffer from this.  The impact alone could hinder your vehicle causing it to be totaled out.  The sight of seeing this impact would mentally distraught you to the point where you may not mentally be able to operate a vehicle for several years.

Another reason this occurs sometimes is to assist law officials in a vehicle chase.  By blocking the lanes, the suspect has to slow down, evaluate a way around the semi-trucks, and decide from there what next to do.

The best-case scenario is that the suspect comes to a stop.  A CB Radio transmission travels as fast as the speed of sound.  By utilizing this quick ability, can at times help law enforcement officials.

 

Click NEXT below to go to the NEXT page.

About Michael : Semi Truck Driver

I have been a semi truck driver for approximately 20 years. Throughout this time I have been taught a lot of different things from a lot of different people through the years. I've also learned a lot of things from my own mistakes. With all of this in mind, allow me to share with you what I have been lucky enough to learn.

View all posts by Michael : Semi Truck Driver →