Will Limiting Truck Speeds Make Them Safer?
Commercial trucks and personal vehicles have devices in them that limit their speed. The federal government is considering imposing a rule mandating their use on heavy commercial trucks. The goal is to reduce speed-related crashes and prevent the severe injuries and deaths that often occur when they happen.
What is a Limiter?
A limiter, or governor, operates through electronic sensors and the engine’s computer. Limiters have been part of heavy commercial trucks since the 1990s. Truck owners must activate them to work.
Sensors detect the vehicle’s speed and communicate that to the engine’s computer, which manages the engine. Once reaching a set top speed, the computer restricts the flow of air and fuel to the engine and the spark plugs that cause combustion in the engine’s cylinders.
What Does the Federal Government Propose?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) plans to set a speed limit for commercial trucks by requiring limiter use. The process of creating a new regulation is ongoing, with the change possibly announced later this year, reports Freight Waves.
The agency proposes a speed limiter rule that would mandate all heavy-duty commercial trucks have their speed limiter set at a maximum speed to be determined later. The proposed rule is meant to improve safety on the nation’s highways by reducing the number of truck-related crashes caused by excessive speed.
The FMCSA states, “The number of commercial motor vehicle (CMV) crashes in which speed is listed as a contributing factor is unacceptable. A carrier-based approach could provide the opportunity to compel fleets that are not currently using speed limiters to slow down their CMVs within a relatively short period.”
European Union countries, Australia, Japan, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec all require limiter use on heavy commercial vehicles. Those limits vary from 55 mph in Japan to 65 mph in Canada, according to the Truck Safety Coalition (TSC).
How Big a Danger Are Speeding Commercial Trucks?
As speed increases, it’ll take a longer distance for it to stop, and it’s more difficult to steer safely. High speeds can also lead to the truck rolling over and jackknifing. Higher speeds also cut a driver’s time to decide what to do and respond to a dangerous situation ahead of the truck.
The FMCSA states that traveling too fast for conditions is one of the top ten conditions leading to commercial truck accidents. According to Fleet Owner:
- Driving too fast for conditions or faster than the speed limit was a contributing factor in 8% of reported large truck crashes in 2009, according to the National Highway Transportation Administration
- The FMCSA Large Truck Crash Causation study found “traveling too fast for conditions” was a factor in 22.9% of all large truck crashes, and 10.4% of large truck/passenger car accidents
The Texas A&M Transportation Institute (TTI) reviewed nearly 2,800 commercial truck crashes in 20 Texas counties and found that speeding was one of the driving behaviors
with the most impact on crashes where the driver was at fault, according to the TSC.
The TTI also found that when speed was a contributing factor to a crash, costs were 20 percent higher than those where speeding was not an issue. They also concluded accidents resulting in speed citations had a 170% higher risk of injuries or deaths.
What Good Are Limiters?
Trucks with activated speed governors have half the crash rate than trucks not equipped with them, according to the second phase of a study by the FMCSA, reports Freight Waves. The agency says they have “a profound safety benefit” for those on the road. The study looked at data from 20 truck fleets involving about 138,000 trucks and analyzed more than 15,000 crashes.
How Will This Work on The Nation’s Roads?
The share of speed-related crashes caused by large commercial vehicles in Ontario significantly dropped after the introduction of speed-limiter legislation in the region.
A study by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) found that the crash rate of speeding trucks dropped by 73% after mandatory limiter use started in 2009. This is more than twice the reduction of accidents of other vehicles (around 30%), reports Insurance Business Canada.
Critics of the law claimed that more vehicles would rear-end slower commercial trucks with limited speed. The study found no evidence limiters contributed to increased truck accidents after 2009, including rear-end crashes.
Other findings of the study include:
- After 2009, commercial truck drivers had fewer at-fault speed crashes compared to all at-fault driver actions
- There was no evidence of worse collision rates for large trucks after 2009
- The share of heavy trucks struck from the rear stayed roughly the same before and after the law changed. The number of rear-end collisions involving other vehicles increased
The MTO conducted the study from 2014 to 2015.
Speak To A Truck Accident Lawyer Today
If you or a loved one is injured or killed in an accident in Kentucky involving a commercial truck traveling above the speed limit or too fast for conditions, you may have legal rights to compensation for the harm you suffered. If the truck owner failed to use the truck’s limiter, it could be additional evidence it’s at fault.
Satterley & Kelley PLLC can and will help you confidently handle legal matters. Put boots on the ground with help from our attorneys. To schedule a free initial consultation at our office in Louisville, call 502-589-5600 (toll-free at 855-385-9532) or complete our contact form today.