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Senate Moves Forward With Plan For Speed Limiters

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From 2012-2014, speeding was the number one driver related factor in fatal accidents, accounting for more deaths than either fatigue or distracted driving. Enforcement of speed limits deters some truck drivers, but pressure to meet delivery schedules and little threat of serious reprimand prompts others to ignore posted limits.

To address the speeding problem, the US Senate began discussions that may lead to a mandate for speed limiters in all commercial vehicles. A semi truck accident lawyer will argue that such a decision will decrease the number of accidents, and leave the road a safer place.

What Is A Speed Limiter?

Speed limiters are electronic sensors inside the engine that monitor speed and other engine functions. Once a driver reaches the pre-set speed limit, the limiter slows down the flow of fuel to the engine. The driver can press the pedal all the way to the floor, but without an increase in fuel, the vehicle will not move any faster.

Speed Limiter Supporters

Almost every safety organization and semi truck accident lawyer has come out in favor of speed limiters. They argue that speed limiters serve two important purposes that reduce accidents:

  1. Slowing truck speeds decreases the frequency and severity of accidents-The force of an accident is determined by two factors: the mass of the vehicles and their speed. Semi trucks are already dangerous because of their enormous weight, especially when compared to passenger vehicles. When high speeds are added to the equation, a potentially minor accident becomes deadly.
  2. No need to weave in and out of lanes-Fast moving drivers are constantly weaving from one lane to another, looking for a clear path that will let them go as fast as they want. For a passenger vehicle, the weaving is dangerous enough, but for a truck, the danger is far greater. A semi truck accident lawyer routinely points to the driver's failure to check blind spots as a contributing factor to an accident. Trucks have large blind spots where smaller vehicles hide, and moving from one lane to another puts any vehicle in the blind spot at risk. With a speed limiter, drivers have less incentive to change lanes.
  3. Speed limiters work-The United Kingdom and many other European countries adopted speed limiters during the 1990s. In the decades since, these countries have seen a reduction in vehicle accidents by as much as 26 percent.
  4. Savings offset costs-Supporters of speed limiters have shown empirical evidence that speed limiters provide ongoing savings that offset the installation cost of the unit. The devices improve fuel economy and consumption by as much as 11 percent, and reduce the cost of maintenance on brakes and tires by up to 15 percent. These costs are in addition to the insurance and settlement payments to victims and a semi truck accident lawyer after a crash.

Speed Limiter Opponents

The trucking industry and lobbying groups vehemently oppose the introduction of speed limiters. For them, speed limiters harm a struggling industry by:

  1. Placing an undue burden on shipping companies and owner-operators-The installation of speed limiters is expensive. In order to install speed limiters in most trucks on the road, trucking companies would be forced into an upgrade of the vehicle's computer. Trucking companies would by forced to take their trucks off of the road for several days in order to fit the engines with the correct devices. While the rollout could be done in waves, trucking companies and their lobbyists claim that the downtime would be devastating to the shipping industry.
  2. The system is easy to disable-Since speed limiters are electronic devices, there are several easy ways to disable the device or alter the settings. Opponents claim that trucking companies will disable the devices between inspections, undermining the program. The opponents also claim that enforcing the regulations would require an army of inspectors far beyond those the The Department of Transportation (DoT) has at its disposal.
  3. Speed limiters make the road less safe by blocking lanes-The installation of speed limiters would prevent trucks from moving with the speed of traffic. On single lane roads and busy highways, the slow trucks will cause traffic jams and increase driver frustration and road rage.

The Senate's Position

In 2015, Congress addressed the issue of speed limiters for the first time, but the legislation never got signed into law. The DoT's 2017 budget brought the issue to the forefront once more.

In late April 2016, the Senate passed the appropriations bill, on the condition that the DoT make a decision on speed limiters in the coming weeks. Insiders fully expect speed limiters will become mandatory once the DoT issues its ruling.

A semi truck accident lawyer understands the role that speed plays in the seriousness of an accident. The inclusion of speed limiters would make the road safer, and the costs are more than balanced by the benefits.

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