In the continued effort to reduce dangerous commercial truck accidents, the topic of speed limiters has been hotly debated by federal agencies, safety groups, and even trucking accident lawyers. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), along with many commercial carrier companies, has talked about mandatory speed limiters in commercial big rigs for some time. Thus far the question still remains as to whether these devices can actually reduce accidents or not. What these groups and many truck wreck attorneys are learning from various studies is that speed limiters may not actually provide the benefit it seems they should.
Can Speed Limiters Reduce Accidents?
Although the premise behind speed governors might seem useful at first, research performed by various safety organizations has yet to prove that these devices can reduce truck accidents. Accident lawyers are aware that some research shows the opposite instead, suggesting these devices have a number of negative effects overall. It is well documented that fewer accidents occur when all traffic is moving at the same pace. Restricting trucks to a slower velocity than the rest of traffic can increase dangerous traffic conditions.
It is also a known fact that many drivers who are already operating vehicles equipped with limiters resort to going faster on roads with lower posted velocities to make up time without reaching the top of their speed governors. In addition, speed limiters do not make up for the fact that most truck accidents that involve speeding result from driving too fast for conditions, as opposed to simply driving excessively over the maximum limit. Based on the proposed 65 MPH limit for big rigs, even on roads where the posted limit is 70 MPH, trucking companies would lose mileage every day, which will likely increase operating costs significantly.
What Are the Drivers Saying?
A recent survey taken by the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) Foundation of commercial truck drivers found that over 80 percent of drivers would prefer to drive for a carrier who does not require speed governors for a variety of practical reasons. Besides the numerous reasons why they would not actually work to reduce truck accidents and could increase them instead, there were other reasons noted as well. Many stated concerns about passing ability, lack of keeping up with other traffic, and the increased possibility of being rear-ended since big rigs would be traveling slower than other vehicles on the road. Most agreed that speed governors were dangerous and that a uniform posted restriction was safest for all vehicles.
When considering how to remedy the problem of speeding and driving too fast for conditions, commercial drivers also had some suggestions as to what they felt could be done about this problem. Many suggested the way to reduce driving too fast was to create a driver safety incentive program. Other ideas stated were that carrier companies start paying drivers by the mile, as well as compensating for time spent loading and unloading. Drivers stressed that the root cause of most truck speeding or driving too fast for conditions is financially based. If commercial carriers would restructure how they pay their drivers, they would take fewer risks and safety compliance would increase.
Accident lawyers understand that there are two extremely valid sides to this important argument. While federal safety groups and many carrier companies continue to push for the mandatory use of speed governors, truck drivers and other research groups continue to provide more research as to why these devices will not work and could even add to the number of accidents. While the debate continues, truck wreck attorneys watch with interest to see what safety laws may be affected and how the issue of mandatory speed limiters will be resolved!
Hildebrand & Wilson, LLP
Robert W. Hildebrand, Attorney at Law
J. Daniel Wilson, Attorney at Law
7830 Broadway, Suite 122
Pearland TX 77581
Phone: (281) 408-2190