You are driving down Interstate 65. Suddenly a big truck barrels by you. Whoosh! Your car shakes. You can feel the wind push your car. You grab the wheel tightly to keep control. How could that big truck ever stop in time to avoid a sudden danger? What if the truck hit your car at such a high speed? These questions race through your mind.
What speed is safe for big trucks? Should big trucks have speed limiters to prevent dangerous and deadly speeds on our highways? The debate over speed limiting devices on commercial trucks has been ongoing for years.
Last year, the FMCSA (Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration) published a public Notice of Intent that it intended to move forward with the rule making process to adopt mandatory speed limiters on the largest trucks. Of course, the FMCSA proposal launched a flurry to debate.
The FMCSA notice of intent was silent as to any actual maximum speed. What maximum speed would the agency seek? Until recently, we didn’t know WHAT top speed the FMCSA would propose. Now, we do. The FMCSA recently proposed setting speed limiter devices on commercial trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds at a top speed of 68 miles per hour. We’ll see if 68 mph remains the proposed top speed after the debate ends.
Speed And Big Trucks Are A Deadly Combination On Our Roadway!
Will speed controls make a difference? Let’s look at a few quick facts about highway injuries and deaths from speeding commercial trucks.
- A study by the United States Department of Transportation (USDOT) found commercial trucks with no speed limiting devices were in twice as many accidents as those with such devices already in use.
- In the Canadian province of Ontario, mandatory speed limiter technology took effect in 2009. According to traffic research, at-fault large truck crashes decreased by 73% after the technology became mandated.
- According to Texas A&M research, crashes with speed citations had a 170 percent greater injury or fatality risk on Texas highways.
- According to the Institute for Safer Trucking, fatal large truck crashes involving speeding on U.S. highways increased 50 percent between 2009 and 2019.
These are just a few, quick facts. They clearly leave no doubt — Speed is a big factor in increasing the rate of serious truck crashes, injuries and deaths, on our roadways. Speeding puts lives at risk!
Who Supports? Who Opposes?
According to a national survey, most Americans support a requirement for the use of speed limiters on large trucks. Of course, Congress does NOT always act in the interest of public safety. If it did, we would likely have settled this debate years ago. We would also likely have side safety guards on large commercial trucks – Something which has been proven to save lives in other countries where required. Side safety guards is an issue I’ve discussed in several prior posts.
A 2022 poll of truckers provided some interesting data on the current use of speed limiters. For years, manufacturers have installed these devices on new trucks. According to that 2022 poll:
- 23% were speed limited at 65 mph
- 26.4% were speed limited between 66 and 70 mph
- 23.4% were speed limited at some rate above 70 mph
- 27.5% did NOT use speed limiters at all.
If the poll is accurate, then over 1/2 of all truck drivers either have no speed limiters or have them set above 70 mph. With many trucking safety proposals, any potential rule change generates a flurry of opposition from many truckers.
Here is where two of the largest trucking industry groups have positioned themselves:
- The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has completely opposed any efforts to require speed limiters.
- The American Trucking Association (ATA) has supported speed limiters set at a maximum of 70 mph in trucks equipped with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. For trucks without such equipment, the ATA has supported a maximum speed of 65 mph.
As you can see from these positions, the large group of independent drivers has maintained opposition to any proposal.
Will The Government Act To Decrease The Number Of Serious Accidents, Injuries and Deaths On Our Roadways?
For years, safety advocates have pushed for basic issues like side guards and speed limiters. Many other countries have required these basic safety devices for years. Because of that, we have tremendous safety data. That data is clear — Speed limiting devices could reduce the number of serious truck accidents. Speed limiting devices could reduce the number of serious personal injuries on Alabama highways. Speed limiting devices could reduce the number of deaths from big truck crashes.
In Alabama, our state is criss-crossed by major Interstates. If you drive Interestate 65, Interstate 10, or Interstate 20/59, you’ve probably been passed by dangerous trucks traveling much, much too fast. We need to enact a reasonable speed limiter rule to protect our friends and loved ones on the highway.
If You Or A Loved One Suffer Personal Injury In A Commercial Truck Accident, Seek Experienced Legal Counsel!
Commercial truck crash cases are very different from car accident claims. Big trucks must follow different rules than passenger cars. If you are hurt in a truck crash, you need a lawyer who understands those rules. Big truck companies emply teams of investigators and lawyers who start working seconds after the collision. These “rapid response” teams are staffed with accident reconstruction experts, investigators, photographers, and lawyers. If you are hurt in a truck crash, you need a lawyer who prepares his or her cases for the best potential outcome.
At the Blackwell Law Firm, we’ve represented families across Alabama following large commercial truck accident cases. From Interstate 65, to Interstate 20/59, to Highway 431, to all the major highways of Alabama, we’ve prepare cases for injured clients who needed our help. We understand what needs to be done. If you have questions, let us know. We are happy to discuss your accident, your injuries, or any of your legal questions.