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U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiting Devices for Commercial Trucks

Blue and white truck in motion blur on the highway at sunset

In response to a staggering increase in truck accident fatalities over the past five years, officials at the Department of Transportation (DOT) have proposed that all big rigs and heavy trucks have speed limiting devices installed. Federal authorities hope that by implementing speed governors on commercial vehicles (weighing more than 26,000 pounds), highway safety will improve substantially.

The speed limiting technology would cap large truck speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph miles per hour. According to research conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), tractor trailers and trucks not using speed limiters were in twice as many high-speed crashes compared to those using them. A separate study found that more than 40 percent of all commercial vehicles crashes in 2014 involved trucks traveling at 60 mph or greater.

The DOT estimates that limiting large trucks to 65 mph would save between 63 to 214 lives annually.  “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment,” offered Mark Rosekind of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

Speed limiters for heavy commercial vehicles

If the Department’s initiative is passed, the regulations would affect all newly manufactured commercial vehicles, including buses, trucks and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

Requiring speed capping devices on large trucks would not only save thousands of lives each year, regulators say it will also provide $1 billion per year in fuel cost savings. The proposed regulation has garnered support from the American Trucking Association (ATA). A spokesperson for the ATA offered that truckers who already use speed limiting devices have found numerous benefits, including increased safety, better fuel efficiency and equipment longevity.

The proposed rule has also drawn criticism for its narrow approach. Steve Owings, founder of RoadSafeAmerica, supports speed-limiting technology in commercial carriers but says that such devices should not be restricted to only new trucks, as it blunts the safety benefits to all motorists. Owings suggests that this life-saving technology should be utilized in all big rigs and heavy vehicles, not just newly manufactured ones.

Truck injuries, crashes on the rise

Statistics from the NHTSA underscore the increasing dangers facing motorists, who share the highways with thousands of heavy commercial vehicles:

  • Collisions involving big rigs and other commercial carriers jumped 44% between 2009 – 2014
  • Truck accident fatalities increased 20% from 2009 to 2015.
  • Injuries arising from commercial vehicle crashes spiked 50% between 2009 – 2014

The average tractor trailer tips the scales at 80,000 pounds, putting smaller, lighter passenger vehicles at a distinct disadvantage in a collision. Given the speed and weight of the vehicles involved, many of these accidents result in catastrophic injury and loss of life.

Injured in a commercial vehicle accident?

DOT’s proposal for speed limiting technology is a positive step for improving road safety. Until these regulations are fully implemented, motorists are still at risk for suffering serious harm in the event of a collision.

In the wake of an accident involving an 18-wheelers or heavy truck, there are many liability issues that need to be examined to ensure that victims are properly compensated for their losses. Los Angeles commercial vehicle accident lawyer Sean Salamati has a thorough understanding of negligence laws, and can help outline your options for legal recourse. You can schedule a free consultation by calling 888-259-4060.

Additional Commercial Vehicle Speed Limiter Resources

  1. FMCSA, U.S. DOT Proposes Speed Limiters For Large Commercial Vehicles
  2. com, US DOT Wants Electronic Devices to Stop Trucks From Speeding
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