Jeremy M. Mattox
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Large Commercial Vehicles to Have Speeds Limited by New Rule


Large trucks can weigh over 80,000 lbs. when fully loaded with cargo, while passenger vehicles tend to weigh between 2,000 and 5,000 lbs. These heavy vehicles necessarily require a great deal of distance to come to a stop, and when traveling at highway speeds, these distances become even greater. Each year, large trucks are involved in about 10% of all fatal accidents on US roads, and nearly 40% of those crashes occur at speeds between 60 and 75 mph. In order to address the number of fatalities that involve large trucks such as tractor-trailers and 18-wheelers, both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) have proposed new rules that would require new commercial vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs. to use speed-limiting devices. These devices would force large vehicles to travel no faster than 60, 65, or 68 mph, with the speed to be determined at the conclusion of the public comment period, currently ongoing.

“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rule making,” US Department of Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx stated. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.” Studies conducted by the Department of Transportation have shown that, were speeds of large trucks and buses capped at 60 mph, these industries would save over $800 million in fuel costs each year.

Both safety advocates and trucking industry representatives alike are enthusiastic about the proposed rule. Chris Spear, the CEO of the American Trucking Association, noted his organization’s long-running support for such a rule. “We are pleased NHTSA and FMCSA have, almost 10 years after we first petitioned them, released this proposal to mandate the electronic limiting of commercial vehicle speeds,” he said. “Speed is a major contributor to truck accidents and by reducing speeds, we believe we can contribute to a reduction in accidents and fatalities on our highways.” Many shipping companies have long been using speed limiters in their vehicles, and have found that use of the devices provides valuable fuel and safety benefits. The chief executive of transportation company Schneider, Mark Rourke, speaks highly of speed limiters. Rourke noted that his company’s use of speed limiters began in 2009, and has resulted in decreased crash rates and substantial fuel savings. “The best thing you can do for [fuel economy] and safety is lower speeds,” said Rourke.

Because a number of transportation and shipping companies began using speed limiters years ago, the Department of Transportation has already had an opportunity to examine their impact on safety. According to a 2012 study, trucks with speed limiters had a rate of 16.4 crashes per 100 trucks, while those with speed limiters had a rate of only 11 crashes per 100 trucks.

If you’ve been the victim of a truck accident in Kentucky, seek the damages you’re owed for your medical expenses, lost wages, and pain and suffering by contacting the experienced and compassionate Georgetown truck accident lawyer Jeremy Mattox for a consultation, at 502-867-6766.

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