As reported by the Chicago Tribune, The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been considering capping the speed of trucks and other large vehicles on the nation’s highways since at least 2012, and conversations about the issue have resurfaced recently. More than one study over the last decade has prompted this renewed interest in a setting a uniform maximum speed limit for trucks. For example, a study conducted by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration in 2007 found that out of the 963 crashes examined, 29 percent involved trucks that were driving too fast.
Back in 2012, the American Transportation Research Institute and the University Transportation Institute completed a more comprehensive study that demonstrated that if the speed of trucks on roads were reduced, the number of truck crashes would likewise be reduced. Researchers in that study looked at a total of 15,000 collisions that involved 138,000 trucks across 20 fleets. This study was done to help support a proposal from NHTSA at the time to cap a truck’s speed ability at 68 miles per hour.
The proposal by NHTSA has attracted some controversy. Many in the trucking industry do not want a rule that limits truck speed, arguing that if there is a speed limit rule, the administration also needs to set a nationwide speed limit of 65 miles per hour to keep the differential between trucks and cars as close as possible. The industry views speed limits as a hindrance to profitability, despite the evidence that reducing truck speeds could help curb accidents.
Speeding is not the only factor that can cause accidents involving big rigs. Other factors that contribute to these types of accidents, as covered in these studies, include a driver’s lack of experience or proper training; defective equipment on the truck; distracted driving; driving while intoxicated; unsafe lane changes; driver fatigue and aggressive driving. Driver fatigue in particular is another well-known issue in the industry, with many truck drivers admitting to logging more hours on the road than allowed under the current rules.
The high cost of truck collisions
As noted by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, most deaths in truck collisions are passengers in the cars involved. In fact, throughout 2015, 3,852 people died in truck accidents, and 69 percent of those victims were in cars or other passenger vehicles. One reason for this is the weight discrepancy between a big rig and a passenger car, as semi trucks can weigh anywhere from 20 to 30 times more than a typical passenger car. Another factor in these collisions is braking capability. A loaded tractor-trailer can go 20 to 40 percent further than a car when the driver brakes, and this discrepancy is even greater on slippery or wet roads or if the brakes are in poor condition.
If you have been injured in an accident involving a truck, contact an experienced auto accident attorney Denver CO relies on as soon as you can to help ensure that your rights are protected.
Thanks to our friends and contributors from The Law Offices of Richard Banta, P.C. for their insight into speeding and semi crashes.