New Policy to Lower Highway Speeds for Trucks & Heavy Vehicles
If a new proposal goes into effect, buses, trucks and other heavy vehicles may have to cap their speeds on the nation’s highways. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, restricting the speed of large motor vehicles to 60 mph could save nearly 500 lives each year. Safety advocates and federal regulators say that limiting velocity on big rigs and other outsized vehicles will significantly reduce traffic fatalities and save upwards of $1 billion in fuel costs.
The federal agencies are proposing regulations that would apply to any truck or vehicle with a gross weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with a speed limiting device. This technology would not allow drivers to exceed a maximum speed when traveling across interstate highways and rural routes. Regulators believe that speed restrictions on school buses, multi-passenger vehicles and heavy trucks will diminish the severity of crashes and reduce resulting fatalities and injuries.
Speed limiting policy faces criticism
The proposal, which was first suggested in 2006 by the nonprofit group Roadsafe America, has been caught up in bureaucratic red tape for years. The nonprofit was started by Steve Owings and his wife after their son was killed by a speeding big rig in 2002, while he was driving back to school following the Thanksgiving holidays. However, even if the proposal goes into effect, the speed limiting device would only be installed in newly manufactured tractor trailers, trucks and large vehicles. The reason for this decision is attributed to the exorbitant cost of retro-fitting millions of vehicles made after 1990.
NHTSA estimates that installing this speed limiting technology on older tractor trailers and trucks would cost anywhere from $100 to more than $2,000 per vehicle.
While many believe the proposal is a step in the right direction, professional truck drivers are raising concerns about the dangerous implications of using speed limiting technology. Truckers argue that driving at 60 mph on our nation’s congested freeways is patently unsafe. “To me it would be a safety hazard unless it slowed everybody else down,” James Chapman – a truck driver from South Carolina – told the Chicago Tribune. Other critics say that the differences in speed between trucks and other vehicles would actually increase interactions between vehicles, thus escalating the likelihood of crashes.
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Additional resources on highway speed limits
- The Wall Street Journal, U.S. Proposes Device to Force Trucks, Buses to Travel at Lower Speeds.
- Chicago Tribune, U.S. Wants to force lower highway speeds on truck and bus drivers http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/nationworld/ct-truck-bus-speed-limit-20160826-story.html