The number of crashes, fatalities and serious injuries involving heavy trucks continues to increase across the country. Speed is the common denominator in most of these crashes.
Recall the horrifying images of the speeding Walmart truck which almost killed the comedian Tracy Morgan. This past January five children on a church trip to Disney World were killed when two eighteen wheelers collided.
In the trucking industry, most truck drivers are paid based on mileage, not hours worked. Now that truckers are required to keep electronic logbooks (effective December 2017), they can no longer maximize their miles by driving longer hours and cheating on their logbooks. Safety advocates believe that speed limiters are now even more important than ever because the only way truckers can make up the lost miles from the electronic logbooks is by speeding!
Since 1992, all new heavy trucks manufactured in the United States have been equipped with speed limiters. Many large fleet owners have turned the limiters on so that their drivers cannot exceed speeds of 65mph. The limiters have been responsible for increased safety and fuel efficiency and the companies report no decrease in productivity.
In 2006, the American Trucking Association petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to require speed limiters on all heavy trucks and to set a top speed of no more than 65mph.
In the past, various attempts have been made to pass legislation mandating the use of the speed limiters on heavy commercial vehicles. However, the Trump Administration’s policy to cut regulations slowed down bipartisan efforts to enact new safety regulations. However, on June 27, 2019, United States Senators John Isakson, Republican from Georgia, and Chris Coons, Democrat from Delaware, introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019. The Act will require all new trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiters set at 65mph. This regulation will also apply to trucks that already have the technology installed. Older trucks that are not equipped with the technology will not be required to be retrofitted. The cost of implementing this safety measure would therefore be close to “zero!”
According to Senator Isakson, “This legislation would officially enforce a long awaited speed limit of 65mph on large trucks and reduce the number of fatalities on the highways.” The proposed legislation is endorsed by Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Foundation, Parents Against Tired Truckers, Truckload Carriers Association and The Trucking Alliance. Obviously, the support of the trucking industry is critical to the passage of this safety regulation. The Trucking Alliance, whose members include major trucking companies such as J.B. Hunt, U.S. Xpress, and Knight-Swift Transportation is a proponent of speed limiters and supports the legislation.
The federal agencies that have studied the issue have determined that setting the speed limiters at 65mph would save between 65 and 215 lives every year!