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Mixed support for speed limiters among key players in the trucking industry

In our last post, we discussed how both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have introduced a new proposal calling for all trucks rolling off the assembly line -- and a potentially large number of trucks already on the highways -- to be outfitted with electronic speed limiters.

Specifically, the proposal, which has been published in the Federal Register, calls for these electronic speed limiters to physically prevent trucks from going faster than one of three speeds: 60, 65 or 68 miles-per-hour. 

Not surprisingly, most safety advocacy groups have already come out in support of the measure, owing in large part to some of the accident prevention figures offered by the NHTSA and the FMCSA.

Indeed, the proposal indicates that in addition to preventing thousands of truck accident injuries, a 60 mile-per-hour max speed could prevent 162 to 498 fatalities per year, a 65 mile-per-hour max speed could prevent 63 to 214 fatalities per year, and a 68 mile-per-hour max speed could prevent 27 to 96 fatalities per year.   

What is perhaps not quite as clear, however, is whether the trucking industry is united in its support of the proposal.

As it turns out, support for the measure is actually somewhat divided among the major stakeholders in the industry despite the above mentioned figures and the proposal's projections that the measure would result in substantial savings on fuel costs.

Both the American Trucking Associations and the Trucking Alliance have come out in support of the proposal with certain caveats. Indeed, the former, which has supported the idea of electronic speed limiters since 2006, wants to see the max speed set at 68 miles-per-hour, while the latter wants to see the requirement extended to all new and existing trucks.

On the other end of the spectrum, the Owner-Operator Independent Owners Association has come out against the measure, arguing that it would actually serve to make the highways more dangerous, creating dangerous speed differentials and stripping truckers of much-needed control of their rigs.

It will be interesting to see what type of feedback the NHTSA and the FMCSA receive during the 60-day comment period and what form the final rule takes should the agencies decide to move ahead. At the very least, it's worth noting that a speed limiter mandate likely wouldn't become the new norm until 2020 at the earliest given the DOT's requirement for a three-year implementation period.

What are your thoughts on this proposal?     

If you have been seriously injured or lost a loved one in a truck accident caused by the reckless actions of a trucker or trucking company, consider speaking with a skilled legal professional who can help you seek justice.  

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