Earlier this year, truck safety advocates proposed that trucks should be limited to traveling no faster than 65 mph. The proposal is a response to large trucks and their involvement with some of the deadliest accidents in the United States. In 2017, large trucks were involved with 4,889 fatal accidents. This represents a six percent increase over the previous year, a trend that has added to an overall 40 percent increase since 2009.
Now, two U.S. Senators support the bill, and it is making its way toward becoming law. The bill is titled “The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019.” Senators Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) introduced the bill to the Senate in late June. The law would require any truck over 26,000 pounds to have a speed limiter which would prevent them from traveling faster than 65 mph. Any truck which already has a limiter will also need to comply with the new 65 mph limit.
“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built-in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” Isakson said. “This legislation would officially enforce a long-awaited speed limit of 65 mph on large trucks and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways.”
Why Does This Bill Exist?
As mentioned above, deadly accidents involving trucks are one of the most common causes of fatalities on American highways. This bill received support by the senators after extensive lobbying by Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition. After finding out that safety technology could have saved his son’s life, Steve Owings founded Road Safe America to try and prevent other families from experiencing what he did.
“This critical safety measure, which has languished for more than 10 years, will put an end to the practice of protecting companies that rely on speeding to remain competitive,” said Harry Adler, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition.
Supporters of the bill stress that a speed limiter mandate has been delayed in the federal government more than 20 times since 2011. Other rules, such as one proposed by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, have been delayed and ultimately abandoned by agencies.
Does the Trucking Industry Support Speed Limiters?
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) has stated in the past that it supports limiters for cars and trucks. However, it has not yet announced support for the bill. The organization says that it wants speed limiters on all types of vehicles to create uniform speed standards for all vehicles.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told FrieghtWaves that it does not support the law. It asserts that limiters will not reduce crashes because most truck-related accidents occur on roads with speed limits less than 65 mph. Instead, the group suggests better training standards and more flexibility with hours of service regulations.