The trucking industry has been pursuing federal requirements for all trucks to have their speed limited electronically — an effort that is being spearheaded by the American Trucking Associations (ATA), to boot. The proposed federal rule would require speed limiters to be installed on all trucks weighing in at more than 27,000 pounds. We support this effort and look forward to the day when more lives on the road are protected from dangerous trucking accidents.
Currently, many new trucks already have this ability, and around 70 percent of trucks on the road may already have speed limits set below 70 miles per hour. However, to truly protect everyone on the road, all trucks may benefit from having speed limiters — and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) likely needs to get on board to help.
Interestingly, individual states might be getting in the way, as they continue to raise their highway speed limits. Sixteen states, including Texas and Kentucky, allow traffic to travel at 75 miles per hour or more in some areas. They’re allowing these increases in speed limit despite the fact that speed is already one of the known top factors in fatal highway crashes.
It’s a pretty simple equation. The faster you drive, the less time you have to respond and react to traffic changes. That’s why speed limits are so strictly enforced in residential zones, because in cases where a collision may be unavoidable, a life could be saved by the driver following the speed limit. But 70 miles per hour or more on the highway? Unfortunately, the numbers may speak for themselves, and they sure don’t look pretty.
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has reported that both driving faster than the posted speed limit and/or driving faster than is reasonable for the given driving conditions was the primary factor behind 18 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was at fault.
Mandating the placement of electronic speed limiters in all trucks weighing 27,000 pounds or more would go a long way to protecting everyone on our nation’s highways, from professional drivers to moms driving carpool.
Mandatory speed limiters would also help hold trucking companies accountable when they try to impose impossible deadlines on their truck drivers, encouraging them to drive faster than is safe.