Preventing truck accidents is an important goal, and Department of Transportation (DOT) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have joined forces to propose a new rule which could save lives. The rule, which could cost trucking employees an estimated $1.5 billion, is supported by the American Trucking Association and Road Safe America, according to Auto Blog.
The rule would require the use of speed limiters on commercial motor vehicles. DOT has suggested overall speed limits for commercial trucks be lowered to 60 MPH and speed limiters in trucks be set between 60 and 68 MPH.
This would mean a truck would be prevented by the speed limiter from exceeding these speeds, so truck drivers couldn't go faster even if they wanted to. The rule is being suggested both to save fuel and to save lives.
According to The Hill, DOT believes many lives could be saved by restricting the speed at which trucks are able to travel. If the limits on trucks were to be set at 60 miles an hour, DOT estimates between 162 and 498 fewer people would die annually in truck accidents in the United States. Even if limits were set higher, at 68 MPH, around 27 people would have their lives spared from fatal truck accidents.
Speed reduction reduces the number of truck accidents which occur and prevents truck accidents from being as serious as the collisions would be if drivers were traveling faster. If a truck driver is forced to go slower, his reduced pace will mean he is able to stop more quickly, so he is more likely to be able to avert a tragic accident. The faster a truck is moving, the more time it takes the driver to stop the vehicle. A trucker going more slowly also has more time to observe and react to obstacles in his path, and is in more control over the truck.
Truck drivers who travel more slowly will also produce less crash force if they become involved in a truck accident. According to Automotive Fleet, the average driver has a five percent risk of becoming involved in a collision, but each percentage increase in speed results in a two percent increase in collision risks. For each percentage increase in speed, the risk of a serious injury goes up three percent and the risk of a fatality happening in a truck accident goes up four percent. The percentage increases are dramatic because crash forces increase "exponentially" as a driver speeds up. If a crash happens when a truck is traveling at 75 MPH, this crash has nine times the force of a truck crash which happens when the driver is going 25 MPH.
It is not clear yet whether the rule requiring speed limiters will move forward. However, truck drivers should make sure they know how risky it is to go too fast and they should choose to drive at a safe speed for conditions on the road.