Why the trucking industry needs speed limiters

Imagine driving along I-285 at 65 MPH and suddenly coming upon stopped traffic. In this type of scenario, even a driver with quick reflexes is likely to experience difficulty slowing down and stopping in time to avoid a collision. Now imagine that the driver in this scenario is behind the wheel of a 40 ton tractor-trailer truck.

Anyone who has ever witnessed the aftermath of a commercial truck accident understands the devastation and serious injuries that often result. Due to their large size and significant weight, it takes considerably longer for a commercial truck to slow down or come to a complete stop than a regular car. 

For example, research shows that a car traveling at 65 MPH takes approximately 316 feet after braking to come to a complete stop. In comparison, a commercial truck traveling at this same speed travels an average of 525 feet, or nearly the length of two football fields, before coming to a complete stop.

The American Trucking Association reports that 18 percent of fatal truck accidents where truck drivers are at fault, are linked to speeding. It was statistics like this that, in 2006, prompted the ATA to recommend mandating the use of speed limiters in the commercial trucking industry to prevent trucks from traveling in excess of 65 MPH.

Five years after the ATA's initial recommendation, federal highway safety agencies, including the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, agreed to "move ahead with the mandate." That was in 2011 and, to date; no speed limiter mandate for the trucking industry has been passed or enacted.

In fact, today speed limits in many states exceed 65 MPH and five states now have speed limits of 80 MPH. While it can be argued whether 80 MPH is a safe speed for any vehicle to travel at, given the length of time needed to slow or stop, this speed seems particularly dangerous for commercial trucks.

Georgia residents who have been injured or who have had a loved one injured or killed in a truck accident in which a truck driver was speeding, would be wise to discuss their case with an attorney. While the ATA has renewed its efforts to push for commercial truck speed limiter law, the federal government has failed to respond with support.

Source: DC Velocity, "Trucking group renews call for national speed limit for trucks," April 21, 2015

Utah Department of Transportation, "Trucks Need More Time To Stop," April 31, 2015

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