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Regulators Draft Rule Requiring that Large Trucks Become Speed-Limited

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Approximately one in ten fatal accidents in the US involves a large truck or tractor-trailer. Due to their size and weight, large commercial vehicles such as semi-trucks, 18-wheelers and buses all hold the capacity to do a great deal of harm when involved in accidents with smaller passenger vehicles. The faster they go, the greater their potential to do serious harm in a crash. In order to address this risk and other concerns, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have each introduced similar rules that would require large commercial vehicles to have their ability to speed mechanically limited.

The rule, currently available for public comment, would require trucks, buses, and other commercial vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs. to come equipped with speed limiters. These devices would prevent the vehicles from traveling over 60, 65, or 68 mph, with the upper speed to be determined by the agencies after the close of the public comment period.

According to studies conducted by the Department of Transportation, speed limiters could bring about valuable improvements in the accident rates of large trucks and buses, as well as substantial savings in fuel costs and the costs associated with greenhouse gas emissions. Certain carrier companies have been using speed-limited trucks for years, which has allowed the Department of Transportation to examine the sort of impact speed limiters have on roadway safety. According to their research, 11 out of 100 speed-limited trucks are involved in accidents, while among trucks without speed limiters, that rate is 16.4 out of 100 trucks. Additionally, the Department of Transportation believes that requiring the use of speed limiters with a top speed set at 60 mph could result in a savings of well over $800 million in fuel-related costs. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact,” said Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator. “Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

Many transportation and shipping industry advocates are strongly in favor of the rule, as well. Chris Spear, the CEO of the American Trucking Association, described his organization’s long-time advocacy for such a rule. “We are pleased NHTSA and FMCSA have, almost 10 years after we first petitioned them, released this proposal to mandate the electronic limiting of commercial vehicle speeds,” he said. “Speed is a major contributor to truck accidents and by reducing speeds, we believe we can contribute to a reduction in accidents and fatalities on our highways.”

If you’ve been injured in an accident with a large truck in Alabama, seek the money you need to be made whole after a crash by contacting the dedicated and compassionate Montgomery personal injury attorneys at McPhillips Shinbaum, “The People’s Law Firm,” for a consultation, at 334-262-1911.