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Study prompts renewed calls for mandatory truck speed limiters

On Behalf of | Feb 4, 2019 | Truck Accidents

Large trucks in Ohio and other parts of the country aren’t required to use crash-avoidance technology, which has long been a concern for some drivers who have to share the road with such vehicles. There is an increased call for industry changes following the release of federal data that shows a nearly 30 percent spike in accidents involving tractor-trailers, semis and other large trucks over a seven-year period. The number of road users killed in tractor-trailer accidents rose sharply between 2009 and 2017. According to a recent report released by Road Safe America, many of those deaths in Ohio and other states would have been prevented by safety systems that are already available but not yet mandated. The Atlanta-based nonprofit organization’s study also reveals that commercial vehicle accident deaths rose while the total number of miles covered by trucks actually fell slightly.

Road Safety America says that eight out of 10 Americans support making speed limiters mandatory safety equipment on large commercial trucks. The technology has been fitted to most trucks sold in the United States since the 1990s. However, many trucking companies elect not to switch these systems on. The researchers noted that many of the states with the highest increase in truck accident deaths have maximum speed limits of 70 mph or higher.

In spite of the increased risk, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has not pushed for the mandatory use of crash avoidance technology until 2016 when they issued a joint statement with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration calling for mandatory commercial vehicle speed limiters, but the proposal stalled. This is despite research suggesting that the measure could save trucking companies about $1 billion each year in fuel costs and prevent hundreds of fatalities. Road safety advocates claim that the proposal may have failed to gain traction because of the Trump administration’s efforts to reduce government regulation.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argues that mandating the use of collision avoidance technology would be too much of a burden for smaller trucking companies. Lobbying associations are also insisting that adoption of this type of technology should be voluntary, not mandatory. On the other hand, there are some lawmakers who are using recent big truck accident stats as part of efforts to urge Congress to step in and take action.

Modern commercial vehicles are packed with sophisticated electronic systems like speed limiters, and some of these devices monitor and keep track of truck driver behavior. Police accident investigators often consult these systems to determine what caused a crash. An experienced personal injury attorney may also use this data to establish negligence and liability in a civil lawsuit filed on behalf of a road user who suffered injury, loss or damage.