Federal Regulators Propose Limiting the Speed of Commercial Trucks

by | Sep 15, 2016

Last month, federal regulators proposed fitting large commercial vehicles with devices that would limit their maximum speed. In a notice issued jointly by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), officials said speed limiters would be a safety measure that could save lives and over $1 billion in annual fuel costs.

The proposed improvement has long been supported by safety advocates. Here are some details about what each organization would require:

  • The NHTSA proposes a new Vehicle Safety Standard that would require speed limiters for trucks and commercial vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds.
  • To comply with the rule, vehicles must have speed limiters set to a specified maximum speed and be equipped with diagnostics that show the current speed setting, the two previous settings, and the dates they were changed.
  • The FMCSA would implement a similar rule for trucks and commercial carriers weighing over 26,000 pounds that engage in interstate travel. The rule would also require that speed limiters remain on vehicles for the entire service life.
  • Officials are considering various speed limits as maximums for the proposed limiters, including 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour.

Trucks and other large commercial vehicles are massive machines that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Because of their sheer size and the fact that they are slow to maneuver and stop, excessive speeds can significantly increase the risks of accidents and the damage they produce. With these types of vehicles, even the smallest increases in speed can have a major effect on the force of impact. For example, data reviewed by the two organizations suggested the following:

  • Setting the speed limit at 68 mph could potentially save up to 96 lives per year.
  • A 65 mph limit could save up to 214 lives per year.
  • 60 mph could save between 162 and 498 lives per year.

Some trucking organizations oppose the limiters, saying they could be a dangerous mandate for drivers who may need to accelerate in order to avoid danger. These organizations argue that no technology can replace well-trained drivers. As our firm has seen over the years, however, not all drivers are properly trained, and even well-trained drivers can make errors and poor decisions.

At Chaikin, Sherman, Cammarata & Siegel, P.C., we have represented numerous victims and families harmed by truck accidents – many of which involved truck drivers traveling at excessive speeds. We believe speed limiters are a positive step in making roadways safer for everyone, and believe collaboration between the NHTSA and FMCSA would mean nearly all commercial vehicles would be limited to a safer speed. The proposed changes can also greatly benefit the environment by reducing fuel consumption.

Our personal injury lawyers have over 90 years of experience protecting the rights of victims injured in all types of auto accidents. If you have questions about your rights following a collision anywhere in Maryland, Virginia, or Washington, DC, contact our firm for a FREE consultation.

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