Senator Calls for Federal Mandate for Speed Control Devices in Large Trucks

Last week New York Senator Charles Schumer called on the federal government to mandate the installation of electronic speed control devices in large trucks and buses weighing over 26,000 pounds. Citing a recent spike nationwide in fatalities and injuries caused by large truck crashes, Schumer’s proposal argues for the installation of devices in vehicles to prevent them from exceeding speed limits. In his proposal he states “for every Long Island driver who has been next to or in the crosshairs of a speeding big rig, a technology like this can’t come fast enough.” In August the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) also proposed the installation of electronic devices on large commercial trucks to have a maximum speed.

However, some trucking groups want these speed controls to be voluntary. The New York Trucking Association states that if the electronic controls create a speed differential between regular traffic and large trucks, it could actually lead to an increase in accidents. The American Trucking Association (ATA) approximates that 70% of trucking companies already use such proposed controls, though the mandated speed limit may differ from company to company. Though Schumer does concede that many companies already voluntarily implement these controls, he wants to go further by covering the remaining 30%, hoping to reduce the “more than 1,000 fatalities involving heavy vehicles and speed every year.”

To help make their argument, the NHTSA and the FMCSA, among other organizations, cite several statistics:

The NHTSA states that in 2014, 3,903 people were killed and 111,000 were injured by large trucks nationwide. In the same year in New York state alone, there were 10,742 police-reported large truck crashes, according to the New York Department of Motor Vehicles. According to police 990 of these were related to unsafe speed.

The Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety report a 15% increase in fatalities and 50% rise in annual injuries in large truck crashes from 2009 to present.

The American Trucking Association states that speed is a factor in about 29% of all fatal crashes. Driving too fast for the conditions or over the posted speed limit is a factor in 18% of all fatal crashes where a large truck was at fault.

Schumer’s proposal estimates that limiting large trucks to a speed of 60 miles per hour would save 162-498 lives annually across the nation. A 65 MPH limit would save an estimated 63-214 lives, and a 68 MPH limit would an estimated 27-96 lives.

The proposal also estimates that 179-551 serious injuries and 3,356-10,306 minor injuries would be avoided annually with a 60 MPH limit. A 65 MPH limit would prevent 70-236 serious injuries and 1,299 – 4,535 minor injuries, and a 68 MPH limit would prevent an estimated 30-106 serious injuries and 560-1,987 minor injuries.

As our truck accident attorneys are no strangers to the devastation that can result from large truck accidents, these numbers are no shock. Especially on highways, all drivers must take extreme precautions to ensure that they operate safely around 18-wheelers and other fast-moving commercial vehicles. In the unfortunate case that these accidents do occur, however, our firm is extremely experienced and well-equipped to make sure that the injured parties recover for their suffering. This is especially true in the case of a truck driver operating their vehicle at an unsafe speed.

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