A proposal is currently being considered aimed at reducing truck accidents. Although The Hill reports the proposal could cost the trucking industry around $1.5 billion, Auto Blog indicates several different trucking advocacy groups are in support of the proposal, including the American Trucking Association and Road Safe America.
The proposal is part of a joint effort by Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). It involves putting speed limiters on commercial trucks. DOT also wants to set a reduced truck speed limit at 60 MPH.
Speed limiters would automatically restrict truck speeds so trucks couldn't go faster than the limiters allowed. DOT and FMCSA want the limiters to be set at between 60 and 68 MPH.
The proposal to reduce truck speed aims to accomplish two goals: reduce the use of fuel and reduce the potential for serious or deadly truck accidents to occur. Limiting truck speeds to 60 MPH could save anywhere from 162 to 498 lives each year. Even if the truck speed limit was restricted to a higher 68 MPH, at least 27 people's lives would be saved when those individuals would otherwise have died in trucking collisions.
Speed limiters will save lives in several different ways. If trucks cannot go faster than speed limits, the risk of the truck becoming involved in a crash will decrease because the slower-speed truck driver will have a longer stopping distance and be more in control of the vehicle than if he was traveling quickly. Slower speed trucks are also significantly less likely to cause deadly accidents because the force of the impact is substantially reduced by even minor drops in speed.
Automotive Fleet warns extra speed does not just make crash forces slightly more severe, but has a significant impact. When a vehicle goes from 25 MPH to 35 MPH, this is a 40 percent increase in speed, however, crash forces don't increase only by 40 percent. The force of a motor vehicle accident increases "exponentially." As a result, going 35 MPH instead of 25 MPH produces 50 percent more violent force when a crash happens. Collisions at 75 MPH instead of at 25 MPH produce nine times the amount of crash force.
While it seems clear lowering truck speed limits can save lives, there is not universal support of requiring speed limiters. Some trucking advocacy groups argue drivers will go faster in lower speed limit zones in order to make up time being lost. Trucks may also have a harder time keeping pace with traffic or responding to situations where they need to speed up to be safe.
Despite these arguments, the wide consensus in favor of the speed limiters as well as the data on accident prevent suggests that this change could potentially be a helpful move forward which saves many lives. Ultimately, however, it is the responsibility of every truck driver to travel at a safe speed, regardless of whether his truck limits his speed or not.