The Cloudy Future of the Truck Speed Limiter Rule

These days, you are hard-pressed to find news about this country that doesn’t mention the recent government transition. Many of the discussions involve speculation about the policies of the new administration. For highway safety advocates, one of the most concerning issues is what will happen to the long-delayed “speed limiter” rule that aims to electronically limit the speeds of big rigs in the interest of placing public welfare above profit.

The trucking industry is infamous for expecting their drivers to meet unrealistic deadlines without consideration to illness, weather, traffic, or fatigue. Accidents involving large trucks frequently result in serious injuries or fatalities because of their sheer mass, even when unloaded. Tractor-trailers can weigh 20 to 30 times more than cars and require 20 to 40 percent more stopping distance. More than 3,850 people were killed in large truck crashes in 2015, including truck drivers, occupants of other vehicles, motorcyclists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

In an attempt to reduce the severity of crashes, the U.S. has been deliberating whether to follow the example set by a few Canadian provinces regarding speed limiting technology on all large trucks operating within their borders. Drafted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), the proposed rule would necessitate the installation of speed limiters (also called “governors”) on all newly manufactured trucks. Some supporters would like to see the rule expanded to include existing trucks, which can be accomplished through an inexpensive software update.

Limiters work through electronic sensors that send information about vehicle speed to the engine’s computer. Maximum speeds are preset; if the speed hits that level, the computer decreases the fuel and air sent to the engine, thereby making it impossible to go past the threshold.

Speed limiters would also help solve the problem of trucks traveling at faster speeds than their tires are made to handle. Habitually driving faster than a tire's rated speed can cause excessive heat that can lead to blowouts. While most truck tires are built for a maximum sustained speed of 75 mph, 14 states have higher speed limits than that and more may follow. The rule has been backed by the American Trucking Associations, which is the largest group of trucking companies in the country. However, independent truckers argue that the rule could contribute to more crashes by ignoring basic mechanics of speed and traffic flow. The new president has mentioned that he wants to do away with unnecessary regulations that obstruct economic growth, and has even proposed that federal agencies do away with two regulations for every new one they approve.

If you have any questions about this topic or believe that a negligent truck driver is responsible for your injuries, the attorneys at Stabinski Lawcan help. For 45 years, we have been the trusted advocates for countless personal injury victims and their families throughout South Florida. We offer risk-free consultations and work on a contingency basis, which means that we do not require you to pay any fees until we have secured a recovery on your behalf. Contact us today by calling 305-643-3100 or filling out a free case evaluation form to find out how we can help you.