What Steps are Being Taken to Prevent Semi-Truck Accidents?
Accidents involving semi-trucks present a serious danger to anyone who drives on the highway. In 2014, semi-trucks and other large vehicles were involved in over 4,000 accidents, many of which were fatal for the people in the passenger vehicles. Because of their large size, semi-trucks pose a significantly higher risk of grievous injury or death when they are involved in a traffic accident. For this reason, lawmakers and other safety regulators are constantly looking for ways to prevent semi-truck accidents. One strategy for reducing semi-truck accidents and making the highways safer is to mandate the use of speed regulators.
The Role of Speed in Semi-Truck Accidents
According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), excessive speed contributes to more than one third of all traffic accidents. With regards to accidents involving semi-trucks and other large vehicles, speed contributes to 23 percent of those traffic accidents. It’s generally accepted that high speeds are correlated with deadlier accidents, so it’s fair to say that combining the risks of driving at high speeds with the risks of accidents involving trucks and other vehicles which weigh more than 26,000 pounds is a recipe for disaster. According to an investigation conducted by the Associated Press, 14 states have speed limits for big trucks that are equal to or higher than the speeds their tires were designed to handle. Allowing truck drivers to go 80mph when the tires are at risk of blowing out after 75mph poses an incredibly serious danger to everyone on the road.
Late last year, the FMCSA along with the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a proposal to mandate the use of speed limiters in large trucks, buses, and other vehicles. These devices literally limit the speeds that a vehicle can go, making it physically impossible for drivers to exceed predetermined speeds. The regulators are considering a cap of 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. According to those regulators, limiting the speed truck drivers can drive to 60 would save 498 lives annually, while a 65mph limit could save as many as 214 lives, and 68mph could save as many as 96 lives. Some truck drivers have balked at the proposed 60mph cap, saying that it would present a new safety hazard by slowing trucks down too much compared to the speeds of other vehicles on the road.
The Benefits of Implementing Speed Regulators
There are several benefits to implementing speed regulators in semi-trucks. In addition to saving hundreds of lives every year, speed regulators also reduce CO2 emissions. Former United States Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx has touted this proposal as “a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.” While there are things that drivers can do to try to prevent accidents, this proposal would go a long way to making the roads safer.
It may come as a surprise to some, but all semi-trucks in the US have been manufactured with the ability to use speed-limiting devices since 1992. The trucking industry has simply opted not to activate this technology. Unfortunately, the NHTSA has said that retrofitting older trucks on the road would be too costly. For this reason, the new proposal only applies to newly manufactured trucks and large vehicles.
Semi-truck accidents are very dangerous. If you’ve been involved an accident with a semi-truck in Oregon, don’t hesitate to contact the experienced semi-truck accident attorneys at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield. Whether you’d like to schedule a free consultation or simply have some questions answered over the phone, we’d love to hear from you.