Report: U.S. DOT proposes mandatory speed limiters for large trucks

To help reduce the number of speed-related trucking accidents, the U.S. DOT proposed making speed limiting devices mandatory equipment for large trucks.

Unfortunately, trucking accidents are an all too common occurrence on the streets and highways throughout New York, and often result in serious injuries or death for those involved. Such wrecks may be caused by any number of factors, including speed. In fact, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles, unsafe speed contributed to 990 trucking collisions across the state of New York alone in 2014. Recently, the U.S. Department of Transportation proposed updating the safety standards for new commercial trucks in an effort to reduce the prevalence of such wrecks, and the associated injuries and fatalities.

The consequences of speeding

A type of aggressive driving behavior, there are numerous dangers associated with speeding. For all drivers, traveling in excess of the speed limit or at rates that are unsafe given the road conditions may increase the distance they require to stop safely after perceiving a danger. This may be especially hazardous for tractor-trailers as they may require the length of a football field to stop in good conditions. Consequently, they may not be able to stop, slow or otherwise react in time to avoid crashing.

Fully loaded, semitrailers may weigh up to 80,000. Their weight combined with high rates of speed may add to the force of the impact of truck crashes. This may increase the risk of those involved suffering head trauma or other serious injuries.

Limiting top speeds for large trucks

Divisions within the U.S. DOT, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have proposed establishing a standard requiring speed limiting devices as mandatory equipment on commercial vehicles. The new standard would apply to all newly manufactured multipurpose passenger vehicles, buses and trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of over 26,000 pounds. The department has not yet determined what the speed limit should be, but is weighing setting the devices to cut large trucks off at a maximum speed of 60, 65 or 68 mph.

Supporters offer that the proposal carries safety, equipment, efficiency and environmental benefits. First and foremost, they suggest the new rule will save lives. Further, the proposal's supporters claim it will also bring about emissions and fuel savings. A representative from the American Trucking Association points out that carriers who have implemented these devices on their own have seen safety, fuel efficiency and equipment lifespan improvements.

Critics point to shortcomings

Not everyone sees the department's proposed rule as a safety and environmental win. Critics to the new standard argue that equipping commercial vehicles with these devices will decrease safety. They suggest by limiting truckers' speed, they may not have the ability to react to hazards and other situations on the road. Consequently, they may not be able to avoid a serious collision that otherwise might have been prevented.

Consulting with a lawyer

When people in New York are involved in trucking accidents, they may suffer serious injuries that require extensive medical treatment and extended time off work. This may result in them incurring medical bills and other costs they were not prepared for, as well as losing wages while they are recovering. Working with an attorney may help those who have experienced such situations determine if speed might have contributed to their collision, and whether the trucking company or truck operator may be held responsible.