Mandating Lower Truck Speeds May Save Lives

Will the federal government put the brakes on speeding truck drivers?

If it does, many lives may be saved, as truckers driving too fast are a leading cause of fatal trucking accidents, killing thousands each year in this country.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) has been considering for some time whether to mandate the use of speed limiters – also known as governors or electronic control modules – on the nation’s big rigs. Just recently the DOT decided to establish such a new federal rule and begin the process by sending it to the Office of Management and Budget for approval.

What is a Truck Speed Limiter?

Truck speed limiters are designed to do just that – restrict the maximum speed commercial tractor trailers can achieve on the nation’s highways. They use sensors that detect when a truck has hit a speed threshold, which then communicate to an on-board computer that automatically slows down a truck’s motor.

Trucking industry representatives have stated that approximately 70 percent of today’s trucks have the devices. But that leaves 30 percent of the U.S. fleet, or thousands of trucks, that don’t use the speed restrictors.

Most of those Killed in Truck Crashes are from Other Vehicles

This new rule would apply to trucks weighing over 27,000 pounds on roads with a minimum speed limit of 55 mph. It’s been estimated that it would annually save over 1,100 lives, of which the overwhelming majority would be innocent bystanders. Statistics show that each year over 70 percent of the deaths in crashes caused by trucks are occupants in other vehicles.

What we don’t know is at what maximum truck speed the governors will be set. That won’t be revealed until the new rule is published, which is still months away. After the Office of Management and Budget cost-benefit analysis, the rule is published for 60 days of public comment. Then, a “final rule” will be drafted and another review process started before it can be implemented.

While some trucking industry groups support the new rule, others, predictably, do not.

But the facts are clear. Big trucks weighing over 13 tons traveling too fast for conditions pose a catastrophic danger to those sharing the road with them. While other factors such as overloaded trucks or poorly maintained trucks play a role in deadly truck crashes, this effort to stop speeding truckers will save lives.

Truckers and trucking companies don’t necessarily put the safety of others first. When they cause serious accidents, consideration for their victims or their victims’ families is not always forthcoming.

If you’ve been seriously hurt or had a loved one killed in a crash caused by a commercial truck, an attorney who represents the victims of trucking accidents can pursue just compensation for you from those responsible.

The choice of a lawyer is an important decision that should not be based solely on advertising.