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Federal Law Aims to Reduce Truck Speeds on Highways

In the recent news of past months, we have reported on numerous fatal truck accidents. Many of these have occurred as a result of negligence in the forms of distracted driving, fatigue, excessive speeding, or a combination of these factors. Now, federal lawmakers may be taking a step to physically prevent truck drivers from speeding.

According to an article by the Claims Journal, the Department of Transportation is attempting to mandate that truck drivers have speed limiters installed in their the vehicles. The propose mandate would require that certain trucks on U.S. interstates have speed limiters known as Electronic Control Modules (or ECMs). This rule would apply to trucks that are over 26,000 pounds and traveling on roads with a speed limit of at least 55 mph. The Department of Transportation hopes for this to go into effect in October.

Proponents of this law claim that the speed limiters would eliminate 1,115 fatal crashes. The American Trucking Association is behind the law, asking for limiters on all new trucks. Road Safe America has also proposed a retrofitting these devices for all trucks made since 1990.

The petition behind this law aims to reduce fatal truck crashes. Because fatal truck accidents are more common at higher speeds, lawmakers want to bring the speeds down. By reducing the top travel of speed, lawmakers hope to reduce the number of fatal crashes caused by high speeds. Trucks that travel at high speeds require longer stopping distances than those that travel at lower speeds. While this is true for all vehicles, this is especially noteworthy for large trucks, such as semis, because accidents involving large vehicles travelling at high speeds lead to worse injuries in motor vehicle and truck accidents due to sheer size alone.

Our readers may be wondering how these speed limiters would work. Speed limiters, which are also known as governors, operate through electronic sensors, which calibrate to limit the vehicle’s speed by sending information to the engine’s computer. When the truck reaches the maximum speed, the computer would restrict air and fuel flow to the engine that creates the combustion for increased speed. Therefore, the truck would be unable to drive higher than the limited speed.

The article elaborates upon reports by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. Accidents with large trucks are less frequent than other motor vehicle accidents, but truck accidents have a higher fatality rate. The Department of Transportation reported that in 2009, 529 large truck occupants were killed in crashes, and 20,000 occupants of large trucks were injured. Each year, there are approximately 500,000 accidents involving trucks. In 2010 alone, there were 1.1 fatal crashes for every 100 million truck miles traveled.

As you can see, data shows that truck crashes are rising in numbers, and these crashes are often fatal. A major factor for these crashes excessive speeds. Our lawyers firmly believe that all drivers need to travel at safe speeds so as to maintain control of their vehicle and not cause an accident. Where a driver chooses to excessively speed and endangers others, they can be held liable for negligence or wrongful death through a lawsuit. If you or someone you love has suffered injury and suffering from a truck accident, a lawsuit may be the right choice for you. Call our firm for a free consultation, and one of our attorneys would be happy to discuss your potential case with you.