Truck accidents are often caused by truck drivers who fail to obey speed limits. Unfortunately, despite strict rules prohibiting speeding and requiring drivers to travel at a safe speed, many drivers try to travel too quickly anyway so they can get deliveries made on time. A new joint proposal from Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) could put an end to this.
The proposal is to mandate the use of automated speed limiters on commercial truckers. Department of Transportation has recommended reducing truck speed limits to 60 miles per hour, and setting speed limiters between 60 and 68 MPH. Several trucking groups are actually in favor of this proposal, which could potentially both reduce the use of fuel and save hundreds of lives. If these speed limiters could prevent truck accidents as DOT suggests, the roads could become safer for motorists if the proposed mandate comes to pass.
The Hill reported on the proposal to mandate speed limiters on trucks, which would cost approximately $1.5 billion for trucking employers due to increased employee hours. Although the cost is substantial, Road Safe America and the American Trucking Association have expressed support for requiring the new speed limiters. Trucking advocacy groups who believe the mandate is a good one argue fuel costs would be reduced by the speed limiters, which would help to make up for the added costs associated with truckers spending more hours on the road.
Safety advocates point to the fact the law could save lives. If the speed limiters set a maximum limit of 60 miles per hour, anywhere from 162 to 498 truck accident fatalities per year would be prevented. If the speed limiters set a maximum speed of 68 MPH, an estimated 27 lives per year would be saved by the use of the speed limiters.
Reducing speed works in several different ways to reduce the chances someone will die in a truck accident. When truckers are forced to travel slower, they will have more control over their trucks and are less likely to get into an accident. They will have more time to see and respond to oncoming obstacles, and their stopping distances will not be as long because the truck will have less momentum than it would if it was traveling faster. If and when truck accidents happen anyway, the crashes will also be less serious because lower speed collisions do not generate as much deadly force.
Despite the potential for saving lives, not every trucking advocacy group is in favor of it. Some argue the rule won't actually make the roads safer because truckers will just speed up in slower zones to try to make up for the added time. Truckers who do this, however, would be breaking the law and they and their employers could be held responsible for any resulting trucking accidents.