Speed limiters for cars? | Calif. now planning to reopen I-10 next week

Trucking news and briefs for Friday, Nov. 17, 2023:

I-10 reopening schedule -- California will reopen next week

California Gov. Gavin Newsom on Thursday announced a change to the timeline for reopening the section of I-10 that has been closed since Nov. 11 after being damaged by a fire under the interstate.

Instead of the original three-to-five-week estimate for reopening, Newsom said the interstate will now reopen Tuesday, Nov. 21.

A press release from Newsom’s office said repairs are expected to continue for months, but the California Department of Transportation (Caltrans) determined that all five lanes of traffic can safely reopen to passenger and commercial truck traffic.

As repairs continue over the coming months, temporary closures should be expected on occasional weekends and overnight, Newsom’s office noted.

[Related: I-10 shut down: Huge fire underneath overpass prompted L.A. closure]

NTSB calls for speed limiters on cars

As the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration explores a potential speed limiter mandate for heavy-duty trucks, another government agency is calling for similar technology on new cars.

The National Transportation Safety Board investigation into a multi-vehicle, nine-fatality  crash in North Las Vegas last year led the board to recommend a requirement for “intelligent speed assistance technology” in new cars.

[Related: If we're going to limit vehicles' ability to speed, start with the real problem: Cars]

The board issued the recommendations Tuesday at a public board meeting after determining the crash was caused by “excessive speed, drug-impaired driving and Nevada’s failure to deter the driver’s speeding recidivism due to systemic deficiencies, despite numerous speeding citations.”

Intelligent speed assistance technology, or ISA, uses a car’s GPS location compared with a database of posted speed limits and its onboard cameras to help ensure safe and legal speeds.

Passive ISA systems warn a driver when the vehicle exceeds the speed limit through visual, sound, or haptic alerts, and the driver is responsible for slowing the car. Active systems include mechanisms that make it more difficult, but not impossible, to increase the speed of a vehicle above the posted speed limit. Such systems also make it difficult to exceed electronic limitations on the speed of the vehicle, working to keep the vehicle at or below the posted limit. 

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[Related: Speed limiters at 68 mph 'still speculation,' but drivers hate it anyway]

“This crash is the latest in a long line of tragedies we’ve investigated where speeding and impairment led to catastrophe, but it doesn’t have to be this way,” said NTSB Chair Jennifer Homendy. “We know the key to saving lives is redundancy, which can protect all of us from human error that occurs on our roads. What we lack is the collective will to act on NTSB safety recommendations.” 

Specifically, NTSB recommended that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration:

  • Require ISA systems that, at a minimum, warn a driver a vehicle is speeding
  • Educate the public about the benefits of ISA
  • Update the guidelines for state highway safety programs to include identification and tracking of repeat speeding offenders
  • Develop countermeasures to reduce repeat speeding offenses
  • Conduct research and develop guidelines to assist states in implementing ISA interlock programs for repeat speeding offenders
  • Incentivize the adoption of ISA through, for example, the New Car Assessment Program. This recommendation is reiterated from a 2017 recommendation.

NTSB also recommended to 17 car manufacturers that they install ISA in all new passenger vehicles that, at a minimum, warns drivers when a vehicle is speeding.

[Related: Speed limiter mandate: Owner-operators call out FMCSA's misplaced priorities]

New TA Express opens in Louisiana

TravelCenters of America earlier this month opened a new TA Express location in Minden, Louisiana, off of I-20 between Shreveport and Ruston.

The Minden TA Express is the company’s eighth location to open in Louisiana, growing its total nationwide network of travel centers to 294. 

The new location offers 50 truck parking spaces, five Reserve-It parking spaces, Charleys Philly Steak and Sbarro restaurants (coming soon), five diesel lanes, three showers and more.