Should speed limiters be required on trucks? The DOT thinks so

The DOT is proposing mandatory speed limiters on large trucks.

The effect that speeding has on the ability to stop a vehicle is known by all drivers. If you ask anyone, they will tell you that the faster you go, the longer it will take you to come to a complete stop. Of course, the same principle applies to large trucks, but on a much larger scale. Even when traveling at a relatively slow speed, trucks can take significantly longer to come to a stop, since they can weigh 13 tons or more. If the truck is speeding, size and weight makes it much more likely that it would not be able to stop in time to avoid a collision with the vehicle in front of it.

The Department of Transportation (DOT) has studied speed’s connection to truck accidents since 2011. Based on its findings, the agency recently proposed regulations that would require trucks weighing 13 tons or more to be equipped with speed limiters. Speed limiters, or electronic control modules (ECMs), work by using the truck’s computer to slow the flow of fuel and air to the engine once the truck has reached a certain speed. Under the new regulations, the maximum speed on trucks would be set to 55 miles-per-hour.

Reports from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration indicate that large trucks are generally less likely to be involved in accidents than passenger vehicles per 100 million miles driven. However, due to their enormous size and weight, there is a high likelihood of a fatality when a truck accident does occur. According to the reports from these agencies, large trucks are responsible for almost nine percent of fatal accidents, despite comprising only four percent of the vehicles on the road.

Unfortunately, the reports from the agencies indicate that truck accidents are increasing. According to the data, the number of fatal truck accidents rose eight percent in 2010 (the latest year data is available) over the year before. Additionally, a DOT report found that many of the events that regularly cause truck accidents, such as loss of control of the truck or shifting cargo, were caused by or exacerbated by speeding.

By mandating the use of ECMs, the DOT expects the number of fatal truck accidents would be reduced by 1,115 each year. If the proposed regulations are approved by the Secretary of Transportation, they could go into effect as early as October 2014.

An attorney can help

Although less common than car accidents, truck accidents are exponentially more likely to cause catastrophic injuries or death when they occur. Sadly, many of these accidents could have been prevented, because they were caused by negligence such as speeding, driver fatigue and improper loading. Under the law, parties injured by negligence are entitled to recover damages for medical bills, loss of wages and other expenses. Similarly, certain members of the deceased’s family may file a wrongful death lawsuit to recover damages against the negligent driver.

If you or a loved one have been injured (or killed) by a negligent truck driver, an experienced personal injury attorney can help you recover the compensation that you are entitled to by law.

Keywords: truck accidents, catastrophic injuries