Big Truck Speed Limiters Proposed to Reduce Risk of Accidents, Injury

Government highway safety officials have proposed equipping heavy-duty commercial vehicles with speed limiting devices, which are designed reduce the risk of high-speed truck accidents. In addition to potentially helping avoid thousands of deaths each year, the devices are also expected to help reduce fuel costs. 

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in conjunction with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), proposed a new rule (PDF) on August 26, which would require commercial vehicles weighing 26,000 pounds or more to be equipped with devices that would limit their speeds on U.S. roadways.

The rule would require the devices to set maximum speeds in which the heavy-duty vehicles could travel, improving fuel efficiency and reducing high-velocity impacts involving the heavy commercial trucks.

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The proposal sets out new safety standards for commercial vehicles which would include trucks, buses, and multi-purpose passenger vehicles with gross weights over 26,000 pounds partaking in interstate commerce. The proposal suggests setting the maximum speed for the included vehicles to a maximum or 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour to prevent high-speed impacts.

“This is basic physics,” NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said in a press release. “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.”

Heavy-duty truck accidents often result in fatalities or very severe injuries due to the nature of the size and force of the vehicles. Over the last decade large truck accidents have declined by nearly 26 percent according to the NHTSA, however several thousand large truck collision fatalities are still recorded each year.

The NHTSA released a report in May 2016, indicating there were 3,903 people killed and an estimated 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks in 2014. The crash data indicated that a majority of the injuries and fatalities were sustained by other parties involved in the collisions. In 2014, 74% of both fatalities and injuries were sustained by occupants of other vehicles that collided with large trucks.

FMCSA Administrator T.F. Scott Darling, stated that safe trucking and bus operations carrying our loved ones are essential and that “this proposal will save lives while ensuring that our nation’s fleet of large commercial vehicles operates efficiently.”

In addition to saving lives, officials from the NHTSA estimate that equipping the nation’s commercial fleet with speed limiting devices could also save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually, improving emissions.

The proposal states that the responsibility of equipping and maintaining the devices would be in the hands of the motor carriers operating the vehicles for the service life of the vehicle.

The NHTSA and FMCSA have released the proposal for public review and are encouraging the public to submit their comments and concerns to better critique the rule before establishing the final rule.


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