For most smaller vehicles, changing highway speed limits doesn’t seem like it would make a big difference in either safety or convenience. But for large trucks like those that traverse California and interstate highways, a change in speed could mean the difference between safe travel and a deadly truck accident.
According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, semi-trucks often weigh 20-30 times more than regular passenger vehicles. As such, they require much more time and distance to come to a stop in an emergency. The faster they travel, the longer that stopping distance becomes. Therefore, limiting truck speeds on the highway could greatly reduce the number of fatal accidents.
Thankfully, new legislation aims to do just that. Two U.S. senators recently introduced a bipartisan bill that would cap highway speeds for tractor-trailers at 65 mph. Rather than just setting a self-regulated speed limit, the legislation would require the use of speed-limiting software, which is already a standard feature on most commercial trucks.
Interstate trucking regulations often take years to enact, are inconsistently enforced and can be largely undone by a changing presidential administration. Efforts have been made in the past to electronically limit truck speeds, which is why the infrastructure is already in place. This bill would essentially replace a very similar proposal by the Department of Transportation that has been stuck in the bureaucratic process for over 10 years.
The original DOT proposal was estimated (at the time) to save between 63 and 214 lives each year. The numbers are likely higher today. And because the vast majority of victims killed in truck accidents are occupants of smaller vehicles, this is a bill that would benefit all of us.
There is no one solution to truck accidents or to highway safety in general. But every effort counts, and we should be using any reasonable tool that promises to save lives.
If you or a loved one has been seriously injured or killed in a serious truck accident, you may be entitled to compensation. Please discuss your options with an experienced personal injury attorney.