Proposed regulations would limit large trucks to 55 mph

The Department of Transportation, based on findings of its own research, has proposed regulations requiring speed limiters in large trucks.

One of the most common illegal activities that you likely observe on Missouri roads is speeding. According to the Missouri State Highway Patrol, it is also one of the most deadly. According to 2011 statistics from the agency, speeding was a factor in 37.8 percent of fatal car accidents in the state. Common sense will tell you that the bigger the vehicle, the more likely that speeding can cause a fatality, due to the distance needed to come to a stop. Of particular problem are large 18-wheelers that weigh 40 tons or more.

It is for this reason that the Department of Transportation (DOT) has carefully examined the problem over the past several years. Based on its examination, the agency decided to propose regulations that would require large trucks that weigh over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiter. Speed limiters, which are technically known as electronic control modules (ECMs), are connected to the truck's computer. Once the truck has reached a certain speed, the ECM tells the computer to start limiting the flow of fuel and air to the engine, which results in the truck being unable to accelerate to a higher speed. The speed that the DOT has decided would be the safest for large trucks is 55 miles-per-hour.

Prior studies from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration found that trucks are generally involved in fewer accidents than passenger vehicles per 100 million miles driven. Despite this fact, when a truck accident does occur, there is a much higher likelihood of a fatality than in car accidents. Although large trucks only make up about four percent of vehicles that are driven on the nation's roads, they are responsible for about nine percent of accident fatalities, largely because of their weight and size.

Since truck accidents pose a significant danger to occupants of smaller vehicles, the DOT hopes that its proposal to reduce speed will result in a significant drop in fatalities. The agency estimates that up to 1,115 fatal truck accidents could be prevented each year if trucks simply drove slower. The DOT's proposed regulations have been submitted to the Secretary of Transportation. If approved, they could become effective in as early as October of this year.

Speak to an attorney

Although the new regulations would, in essence, force truck drivers to drive more safely, it would merely reduce the occurrence of only one cause of truck accidents. Because of this, motorists should remain alert when encountering large trucks on the highway.

If you or a loved one have been injured in an accident with a truck, it is important to speak with an experienced personal injury attorney. In many cases, the accident occurred because of negligence of the driver or trucking company (e.g. driver fatigue, improper loading or maintenance lapses). An attorney can determine whether negligence caused the accident and help you recover compensation for your medical bills and other expenses resulting from the incident.

Keywords: truck accidents, speeding