Following an Associated Press report last month that revealed the vast majority of 18-wheelers and other large commercial trucks are not designed to safely travel at speeds above 75 miles per hour, the trucking industry is urging Congress to pass legislation that would require all commercial trucks be equipped with speed limiters that restrict how fast a truck can drive. A proposal to require speed limiters (also called governors) on commercial trucks was first introduced in 2011, though it has sat idly by while research and analysis is done on the cost of the potential regulation.
State Speed Limits Outpace Truck Design
For the last 10 years, truck manufacturers have built trucks with a maximum speed of 75 miles per hour in mind. The 75 mile per hour max was sufficient at a time when nearly every state had maximum speed limits of 65 or 70 miles per hour. However, over the last decade 14 states have increased their maximum speed limit to 75 miles per hour or higher. Texas, South Dakota, Utah, and Wyoming have speed limits of 80 or above in parts of the state.
The higher speed limits force truck drivers to drive at speeds above what the truck was designed to handle or drive significantly slower than the flow of traffic. The trucking industry says both options are dangerous and unnecessarily put truck drivers and other motorists at risk.
Higher Speeds Reduce Safety
One of the primary safety concerns for trucks driving at high speeds is the increased risk of a tire blowout. The trucking industry is pushing for a nationwide maximum speed limit of 65 miles per hour. While nearly 70% of trucking companies voluntarily install governors on their trucks to restrict their top speeds, it is argued that a reduced national speed limit and a requirement that all trucks be equipped with governors would prevent the other 30% from needlessly endangering other drivers. Speeding is one of the leading causes of truck accidents. It has been a contributing factor in 33% of all fatal truck accidents.
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