The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMSCA) recently announced their recommendation that all heavy-duty vehicles – such as tractor trailers and mass carriers – be equipped with devices which would limit the maximum speed the vehicles could travel. The agencies say that the devices, referred to as speed limiters, could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs every year.
The proposal – once implemented – would require all newly manufactured trucks, buses, and other multi-passenger vehicles with a gross weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to have speed limiters installed. Currently, the agencies are considering maximum speeds of 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but are also willing to consider ideas put forth from public input.
Although many organizations are in favor of the new proposal, there are some who oppose it, in particular, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA). The organization’s main complaint is that speed limiters prohibit the truck driver from speeding up in situations where it may be necessary. A spokesperson for the organization stated that highways are safer when all vehicles are traveling the same speed limit, the inference being that all other vehicles on the roads would be traveling faster than the 60, 65, or 65 m.p.h. that speed limiters will impose on the tractor trailers.
Multiple studies have shown that speeding tractor trailers are responsible for almost 25 percent of all truck accidents that occur. Just the huge size of an 18-wheeler makes it hard to handle, but an 18-wheeler that is traveling too fast becomes even more difficult to maneuver. And adding speed to all that weight also increases the amount of time it takes for the truck to slow down or stop. Our Virginia personal injury firm has reported on numerous truck accidents where the victims’ vehicles were slowing down or stopped in a traffic jam, only to be slammed into by a speeding tractor trailer whose driver was unable to stop in time. Far too often, the outcome of those truck accidents is horrendous.
One study conducted by the FMSCA found that utilizing a speed limiter to keep a tractor trailer from going over 65 m.p.h. reduced truck accidents by 50 percent – an incredible decrease. And – despite the current objection from the OOIDA – the study found that speed limiters did not cause the issues that the organization is concerned with.
One of the key points emphasized in the State of Virginia CDL manual is the responsibility every heavy-duty vehicle operator has to safely operate their vehicles. The state also has stringent rules against serious traffic violations, such as speeding, reckless driving, and following too closely to the vehicle in front, and drivers who break those rules face license disqualifications.
Our Virginia truck accident law firm knows all too well the devastation that a tractor trailer accident can cause. We have successfully represented victims and their families against negligent truck drivers and commercial carriers. For more information about truck accidents in Virginia, please download our free guide.