Truck safety groups want feds to require limiter devices on rigs
Truck safety groups pushing for speed limiters want the federal government to require the devices on big rigs to stop them from exceeding 65 mph, to reduce deaths and injuries from crashes.
“Studies examining the relationship between travel speed and crash severity have confirmed the common-sense conclusion that the severity of a crash increases with increased travel speed,” said a proposal from federal agencies.
The problem is that the proposed rules made in 2016 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) weren’t adopted, according to FreightWaves.
How speed limiters work
Speed limiters are electronic-controlled devices that can limit a vehicle’s maximum speed.
According to howstuffworks.com:
“A series of sensors detect how fast you're going, then communicate that information to the engine's computer, which manages nearly all the engine's functions. Once you reach a pre-determined top speed, the computer steps in and restricts the flow of air and fuel to the engine and even the sparks that cause combustion.”
Because the 65 mph limiting devices have yet to be made a requirement, truck safety groups are pushing for speed limiters in the form of bypassing regulators and trying to get the measure established by the U.S. Congress.
“We’re very dissatisfied from what we’ve gotten from DOT [the U.S. Department of Transportation] in the last 12 years, so we’re hoping Congress, or even President Trump himself, will get this thing done,” Steve Owings, Road Safe America president, told FreightWaves.
Leading the way of truck safety groups pushing for speed limiters are two organizations. Road Safe America is an Atlanta, Georgia-based group working to make highways safer. Truck Safety Coalition is a volunteer group based in Arlington, Virginia whose members provide support to survivors and families of victims of truck crashes.
Owings told FreightWaves that on average 1,000 crashes occur each day in America involving big trucks. Hundreds of deaths and thousands of injuries could be avoided by meeting the goal of truck safety groups pushing for speed limiters.
The problems caused by big truck crashes have a ripple effect beyond fatalities and physical harm.
Enormous traffic jams imposed as police block off roadways and untangle and investigate such accidents consume time of innocent travelers who must wait in the jams, to say nothing of wasting gas and productivity.
Trucking industry support for speed-limiting devices has been mixed but J.B. Hunt, Knight-Swift Transportation and Maverick Transportation support speed limiters through a group called the Trucking Alliance.
The American Trucking Associations has supported requiring speed limiters set at 65 mph for trucks built after 1992, but only if such a nationwide speed limit applies to cars and trucks.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), whose website said it represents the rights of all professional truckers, is against mandating speed limiters on big trucks.
“OOIDA is opposed to a mandate for speed limiters, as mandating speed limiters would decrease overall highway safety because the interaction between large trucks and passenger vehicles would increase.”
Instead, the OOIDA in the interest of road safety urges that truckers comply with state and federal laws and that comprehensive driver-training requirements be improved.
As the debate involving truck safety groups pushing for speed limits continues, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration offered safety tips for all drivers:
- A fully loaded truck traveling in good road conditions at highway speeds needs nearly two football fields to stop, a much greater distance than that of a smaller vehicle.
- Stopping distance increases with a heavy load or in road conditions such as snow, ice or rain.
- Never suddenly cut in front of a truck as it reduces the truck's allowable safe stopping distance.
- Large trucks and buses have blind spots on all four sides. If you can’t see the driver in the vehicle side mirror, assume the driver can’t see you.
- Don’t drive in a blind spot – slow down or move ahead to stay visible and take extra care when merging.
- When passing, signal clearly then move into the left lane and accelerate so that you can get past the truck or bus safely and pass promptly.
- Don’t pass trucks and buses on downgrades where they tend to pick up speed.
- Never pass from the right lane.
- When a bus or truck is passing, stay to the right, slow down and give them extra space to change lanes or merge in from ramps.
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