A speed limiter is a device that prevents a vehicle from traveling over a maximum set speed. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would like to see speed limiters installed in all commercial trucks on U.S. roads. Their proposed Speed Limiter Rule would set the maximum speed for commercial trucks at 68 miles per hour. It would also require all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to come equipped with speed limiting devices.
Lower Speeds and Accident Rates
The basis for the proposed new NHTSA rule is a study from 2012 by the Virginia Tech University Transportation Institute and the American Transportation Research Institute. The study was done with federal funds and used data from 20 fleets, 138,000 trucks and 15,000 trucks. Researchers concluded that speed reduction decreases the number of truck accidents on U.S. roadways. With a truck, small increases in speed greatly increase the force of impact in a crash because of the mass of the vehicle involved.
The NHTSA estimates that in addition to saving lives, the lower speeds will also save more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year. Because millions of gallons of fuel will be saved annually, the new rule would have a positive effect on the environment as well.
Objections to Speed Limiters
Some in the trucking industry object to mandatory speed limiters in trucks saying that there is a safety issue with the differential in speed that will exist between trucks and the rest of vehicle traffic. They insist that if truck speed has a limit of 68, then there has to be a national maximum traffic speed limit of 65 to ensure the differential between cars and trucks remains relatively equal. On some rural western highways, motorists are legally allowed to drive 70, 75 or 80 miles an hour. Opponents of the measure say that highways are safest when all the traffic is traveling at roughly the same speed. There is also a concern that by limiting speeds on highways, truckers will feel pressured to make up lost time in low-speed areas thereby increasing the risk for trucking accidents in those areas. Moreover, opponents assert that truck drivers will not be able to drive as many miles in one day, impacting how much money they can earn.
Conversely, there are two groups that support the proposed new NHTSA speed limiter rule. For almost 10 years the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Road Safe America (RSA) have been advocating for the use of speed limiters. Several major trucking companies including J.B. Hunt, England, ATS Logistics, and Schneider National support the measure. Speed limiters on trucks is also not a new concept having been available on diesel trucks since the 1990s. Many European countries as well as Japan and Australia are already using the technology.
Delaware Truck Accident Lawyers at McCann Dillon Jaffe & Lamb, LLC Represent Those Injured in Trucking Accidents
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