Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) and the American Transportation
Research Institute (ATRI) have been looking at data old and new to determine
if speed limiters in commercial trucks could prevent accidents and save
lives. A speed limiter is an electronic device installed into a vehicle’s
engine computer that will cut off air and fuel flow to an engine once
it determines the vehicle is traveling at the predetermined maximum speed;
you might not know it but there’s likely a speed limiter in your
car right now that stops you from going more than 110 or 120 miles per
hour, despite the engine being able to do more. The newly conducted research
looked at 20 fleets, more than 135,000 trucks, and about 15,000 truck
accidents throughout the years.
The results of their study indicate that a speed limitation of:
60 miles per hour would save nearly
500 lives a year in the United States.
65 mph would save about
200 lives per year.
68 mph would still save close to
100 lives each year.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has picked up
the study’s conclusion, along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety
Administration (FMCSA), to push for new
regulations that would authorize speed limiters. The findings in the VTTI/ATRI study
coincide quite well with research conducted as far back as the 1970s.
Many people are wondering, “If the benefits have been known since
the 70s, why haven’t we used speed limiters yet?”
Concern Over Speed Differentials
People who oppose using speed limiters in big rigs cite potential dangers
of speed differentials between the larger vehicles and the smaller ones
that would be zipping around them. The notion is that if a truck is only
going 60 miles per hour, a motorist traveling 70 mph and up would be more
likely to plow into the back of the truck, especially if there was a sudden
braking event. The concern has prompted the director of engineering services
for the American Trucking Associations to propose a nationwide highway
speed limit of 65 for all vehicles.
The NHTSA is insistent that speed differential concerns are largely unwarranted,
and that the benefits of speed limiters far outweigh any speculated dangers.
For every rear-end
truck accident caused by a commercial truck moving slower than the rest of traffic, there
could be dozens of other collisions prevented. Furthermore, a smaller
car running into the back of a truck while following too closely may only
experience an impact force equivalent to a slow-speed collision, due to
the lesser weight of the car and the direction of the crash. Whereas a
crash caused by a commercial truck going 70 mph or more will hit with
a force 10, 20, or 30 times that strength, causing significantly more damage.
At this point, the study’s release is encouraging, as it is drawing
attention to the issue. Even Transport Canada has chimed into the debate
here in the States, citing that its own study in 2009 reached the same
conclusion: speed limiters prevent crashes and save lives.
Have you been hit by a commercial truck that was speeding? File a personal
injury claim with our Columbus truck accident lawyers at Rourke and Blumenthal.
Call 614.321.3212 or
contact us online today.