Speed Limiting Device for Tractor Trailers?

A grassroots campaign to have speed limiting devices installed in all tractor trailer trucks is gaining momentum in Washington. Leading the fight is Stephen Owings, whose 22-year-old son died when his car was rear ended by a big rig.

Said Owings of the speed limiting devices, “We are not against truckers. We are pro highway safety.”

While, according to Owings, the Bush administration was not receptive to his pleas for speed limiting devices on big trucks, the Obama administration seems more open to the idea. Ownings hopes that Congress will mandate speed limiting devices for big trucks in a soon to be drafted highway bill.

While independent trucking companies, private owner-operators and those with conservative views on government regulation have declared themselves opponents of the measure, Ownings has found himself with an unexpected source of support – the American Trucking Association (ATA).

According to the ATA, the speed limiting devices would not only preserve human life in case of a crash, they would also help preserve fuel.

"When the industry itself is asking for this requirement, it's hard to see Congress finding fault with it," ATA Senior Vice President Tim Lynch said.

But opponents of the measure, such as driver Julia Scott, say that turnabout should be fair play, and that if the government wants to put speed limiting devices on big trucks “they need to put speed limiting devices in the cars."

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association agrees with Scott, declaring that mandatory speed limiting devices are likely to lead to more collisions because truck drivers will no longer have access to excess horsepower when executing emergency maneuvers. They also theorized that trucks being unable to pass one another would lead to increased traffic gridlock.

According to the latest data, speed is a factor in 9% of all fatal truck accidents. While speed is a factor in a larger percentage of small auto accidents than big truck accidents, it is wise to consider that 75% of all fatalities in truck accidents occur among drivers of other involved vehicles and 8% occur among bystanders. A truck’s size can cause exponential damage when barreling out of control.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, though, questioned whether speed limiting devices would help in even the 9% of fatality accidents. To back up their point, they cited statistics saying that tractor trailer truck accidents occur more often when drivers are driving too fast for conditions, not when they are exceeding the speed limit in general.

Are you in favor of speed limiting devices on big trucks? Contact your congressman and show your support for such a measure in the upcoming highway bill.

If you’ve been injured in a tractor trailer accident, or if you’ve lost a loved one due to a negligent truck driver or trucking company, call MLN Law at (404) 531-9700 to schedule your free consultation. Call now. The longer you wait, the weaker your case becomes.

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