Federal Safety Bodies Draft Rules Requiring Mechanical Speed Limiters

The two rulemaking bodies under the US Department of Transportation have proposed nearly identical rules which could improve the safety records of large vehicles on US roads. Both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have written rules which would require that vehicles weighing over 26,000 lbs., including large trucks, buses, and tractor-trailers, have speed-limiting devices installed. The devices would limit the speed of these vehicles to 60, 65, or 68 mph, to be decided at a later time by these federal rulemakers. The proposed rules are currently available for public comment.

Large vehicles are necessarily harder to bring to a stop than smaller vehicles. Semi-trucks and tractor-trailers, when fully loaded, can weigh somewhere in the neighborhood of 80,000 lbs, and therefore require much greater distances to bring to a stop than do passenger vehicles. As these large vehicles drive faster, their stopping distances become substantially longer. A tractor-trailer traveling at 65 mph, for example, needs a length of road that is 150% longer than a tractor-trailer traveling at 55 mph to come to a stop.

Safety experts believe that forcing these large, heavy vehicles to travel at lower speeds will reduce the number of speed-related crashes. In fact, shipping companies that have already adopted the use of speed limiters in their vehicles have noticed a marked improvement in the safety of their fleet. A study comparing speed-limited trucks to those without speed limiters found that 5 out of every 100 trucks without speed limiters were involved in a speed-related accident, whereas the rate of such crashes was only 1.4 out of 100 speed-limited trucks.

A recent accident involving two semi-trucks shows the destructive capacity of these large vehicles when traveling at highway speeds. On October 27, 2016, a Spartanburg man was killed while driving a tractor-trailer on a Virginia highway. The driver was piloting a 2007 Volvo tractor-trailer when, according to witnesses, the 2013 Freightliner in front of him slowed down. The Spartanburg man collided with the rear of the Freightliner, resulting in a crash that forced the closure of the highway for an hour. The man was taken to a nearby hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

If you or someone you love has been injured in a tractor-trailer crash in South Carolina, contact the seasoned and effective personal injury attorneys at the Spartanburg personal injury law firm Anderson, Moore, Bailey & Nowell for a consultation on your claims, at 864-641-6431.