Due to safety concerns, the federal government is looking to revive its efforts to require an automatic system to limit the speed of trucks.
Deaths due to truck accidents have risen sharply in 2021 showing an increase of 18% during the first half of 2021 compared with the previous year. They had already been on the rise in 2021 up nearly 7% from 2020. This trend has continued for over a decade. Deaths in crashes involving large trucks rose 29% over a decade, to 4,895 in 2020 from 3,781 in 2011.
Studies show that reducing the speed of large trucks can reduce the severity of these accidents. The U.S. Transportation Department’s National Roadway Safety Strategy “identified speed as a significant factor in fatal crashes and speed management as a primary tool to reduce serious injuries and fatalities.”
The idea of speed limiters was introduced in 1995 and had been added to a shortlist of priorities going forward. “They simply cannot do this fast enough,” said Steve Owings, co-founder of the advocacy group Road Safe America, whose son Cullum was killed when a speeding truck slammed into his car and stopped in traffic. “There’s absolutely no question that if speed limiters are required to be used at a reasonable top speed, it will save a lot of lives.”
Chris Spear, president and chief executive of the American Trucking Associations, welcomed what he called “a constructive, data-driven approach to the issue of truck speed limiters.”
“We look forward to working with the agency to shape a final rule that is consistent with our policy supporting the use of speed limiters in conjunction with numerous other safety technologies,” Spear said.
Most heavy trucks already have the devices installed, though there are no standards for using them nor requirements to turn them on. Even back in 2016, speed limiters were in 77% of heavy trucks, according to NHTSA.
“We can think of no better, or more readily available, safety solution than setting already existing speed limiters in the largest vehicles on our roads,” said Harry Adler, co-chair, and principal of the Institute for Safer Trucking, another advocacy group.