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Judge John E. Turner (Ret.)

Can the U.S. force truck drivers to slow down?

The U.S. is considering placing a limit on how fast trucks, buses and other large vehicles can travel on American highways.

According to CBS Boston, a proposal from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is looking to introduce a nationwide speed of 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour on vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds.

The exact speed limit is still being determined, but proponents hope the limited speed will reduce the approximately 1,115 fatal trucking accidents that occur each year.

A Speed Limiting Device Is The Key

A device placed on new vehicles would physically prohibit drivers of large vehicles from going over the determined speed limit, in hopes of reducing the number of fatal crashes each year and saving on fuel costs.

Reduced speeds are thought to create a safer environment on highways, and a recent investigation helped substantiate this. Most truck tires are not designed to withstand speeds over 75 miles per hour, and 14 states currently have speed limits in place that are equal to or greater than this. Tire manufacturers agree that traveling at speeds over 75 miles per hour can cause tires to fail, thus creating precarious safety situations.

Lowering the speed limit for large vehicles would also save an estimated $1 billion in fuel costs each year.

This Issue Isn't Really New

The cost of implementing this proposal would be negligible, because all American trucks have devices already in place that are capable of limiting speed. However, some don't have a speed limit set.

While this proposal is just now going to public comment, it is not new. The nonprofit group Roadsafe America first issued a petition for slower truck speed limits in 2006 and was later joined by the American Trucking Association.

Some Truckers Believe It Would Increase Accidents, Not Reduce Them

The proposal is currently favorable among non-commercial drivers, but it is causing some concern among heavy truck drivers. Many feel that the restricted speed limit could put them in vulnerable situations when they are traveling at slower speeds than other vehicles on the highway.

The spokeswoman for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association agreed and stated that speed discrepancies increase interactions between vehicles, as faster cars will have to reduce their speed for slower-moving trucks. Thus, instead of creating safer road conditions, the speed-limit cap can raise the probability of collisions.

With or without this proposed speed-limit cap on large vehicles, traffic accidents will never be fully eradicated. However, victims of collisions can seek compensation through a personal injury claim. To learn more, consider talking with an attorney skilled in this area of law.

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