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The Impact of Speed Limiters on Large Truck Accidents


A recent proposal to require speed limiting devices on trucks, buses and other passenger vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds could have a significant impact on large trucking accidents in Tennessee. According to U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx, there are a number of important safety benefits that accompany this proposed rule-making.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) Administrator Mark Rosekind asserts that "Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact." For a large truck traveling just 50 mph, the force of impact in a collision is four times as violent than if it were only going 25 mph. When traveling 75 mph, the force of impact is nine times stronger. While large trucks cannot be expected to transport goods along America's highways at only 25 mph, the effect speed has on the risk for significant injuries or death should be considered.

CBS News reports that about 740 individuals are killed each year in large trucking accidents where speeding is a factor. When traveling at high speeds, trucks are more likely to roll-over, jack-knife or lose control which raises the risk for fatalities. According to a recent analysis, speed limiters will reduce the risk for serious accidents and lessen the number of serious injuries and fatalities. According to the report, limiting the speed of large truck to:

  • 68 mph could save an estimated 96 lives, about 106 serious injuries and more than 1,980 minor injuries each year.
  • 65 mph could prevent about 214 fatalities, 236 serious injuries and more than 4,500 minor injuries annually.
  • 60 mph is most significant, possible saving approximately 500 lives, 550 serious injuries and over 10,000 minor injuries every year.

Not everyone agrees with Foxx and the NHTSA, however.The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) asserts that requiring the use of this technology could prove to be dangerous to truckers and other motorists on America's roadways. According to the OOIDA, variances in speed will interfere with traffic flow and result in road congestion, driver frustration and an increase in traffic crashes.

OOIDA also points out that while many large truck accidents involve speeding, less than 1 percent involve truckers who are driving faster than the posted speed, and about 12.8 percent were attributed to drivers moving too fast for conditions. Speed limiters would have no effect on drivers using common sense when driving conditions are less than favorable.

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