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Agency proposes speed limiters for commercial trucks. Will they work?

Can limiting the speed of commercial trucks prevent accidents? Safety groups hope so. Most commercial trucks are equipped with a switch that limits how fast they can go. This technology has been in place for more than a decade, but lawmakers have been hesitant to require that this shift be activated, although this type of action has been supported by safety groups as well as the American Trucking Association (ATA).

As of August 2016, wheels are finally turning on plans that would mandate that the limiters be used on new trucks and buses that weigh at least 13 tons. The public is supposed to weigh in this November.

Where to set the limit?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is still unsure whether the requirement would extend to existing vehicles, even for vehicles with no switch currently installed. It also hasn't been decided exactly what speed the limiters should be set at, although it's expected that the limit will fall in between 60-68 mph. It's estimated that with limits set at 60 mph, 500 lives could potentially be saved each year. If the limit is at 68 mph, 100 lives would be saved.

Other countries have enforced similar measures. Canadian provinces, Ontario and Quebec both require limiters to be set at no more than 65 mph, and the European Commission has their limit to be set under 56 mph.

Impact of speed in trucking accidents

In the U.S., speeding contributes to more than 1,000 deaths each year involving trucks and buses weighing at least 13 tons. In addition to the safety factor, requiring these limiters would also save over $1 billion in fuel costs.

Independent truckers are somewhat reluctant to get on board with actually using speed limiters largely because it can potentially create a speed gap between their own speed and that of other traffic. They believe that these gaps can potentially cause accidents as well. They may also place limits on how much money the truckers can make, and potentially fuel road rage incidents.

Like most new laws, it is likely that there will be further debate and adjustments before it is enforced. In the meantime, it is good to know that these types of safety issues are being considered. However, if you've already been injured in a trucking accident, or a loved one has been killed, the consolation this provides is minimal.

Seeking advice from a personal injury or wrongful death attorney can help you get a better sense of the circumstances of the accident and may help you succeed in getting compensation for your injuries or loss.

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