Lower Speed Limits on Semi Trucks Could Save Illinois Lives

May 27, 2014

In Illinois, 91 trucks with semi-trailers were involved in fatal motor vehicle collisions in 2012. According to the state’s traffic crash facts, another 1,714 collisions occurred involving semi-trucks that caused injuries. With a total of 29.9 percent of collisions in the state involving speeding, it is likely that some of these collisions involved truckers that were going too fast.

A truck that travels at high speeds can be extremely dangerous. Victims injured by a speeding trucker should consult with personal injury lawyers in Illinois for helping pursuing a claim for damages. Because speeding can significantly increase the risk of accidents, drivers need to obey the speed limit at all times. The Department of Transportation is also considering new rules for big rigs in an effort to save lives and to improve fuel economy.

Could Lower Speed Trucks Save Lives? 

According to Auto Blog, the Department of Transportation’s March 2014 report of significant rulemaking included a proposed requirement to make big rigs use speed governors. The new rule would force trucks that weigh 26,000 pounds or more to use these speed-restricting devices.

The DOT is not the first to suggest that trucks by equipped with devices to impose a maximum speed limit. Truckline reports that the American Trucking Association also suggested that new trucks have a maximum speed of 68 miles per hour.

Slowing truckers would potentially reduce accidents because it would reduce the stopping distance. The faster a semi-truck is going, the longer it takes the vehicle to stop and the more likely it is that the truck will hit an obstacle in its path. Driving at slower speeds will also ensure that truckers are more in control of their vehicles.

Some trucking companies already have limiters on tractor-trailers voluntarily. If a new rule imposed this requirement on all trucks, it would essentially eliminate the ability of drivers of large commercial vehicles to drive at unsafe excess speeds. Other countries that require limiters have noted significant benefits associated with required limiters.

Not everyone is in favor of a speed governor with a set limit. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association  suggests that it is speed differentials and not outright velocity that can cause collisions, and says it is better to allow all traffic including large trucks to travel at a roughly equal pace. Further, imposing limits on all tractor trailers and requiring them to go at the same lower speed could also make passing much more difficult or dangerous.

It is unclear if the new proposed speed limit rules will go into effect, as the proposal is still in the preliminary stages. It would need to be approved by the Secretary of Transportation and by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) in the White House before it moves forward and is published as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. From there, around 60 days of public comment would be necessary before the rule was published, and it would then go into effect 30 days later.   Until the rule goes into effect, drivers will need to make the choice themselves to drive at a safe speed and not exceed limits.

A Chicago accident attorney can help after an injury. Call Coplan & Crane at 800-394-6002 to schedule your free consultation.