A bill is pending in the U.S. Senate that would mandate that new commercial vehicles weighing at least 26,001 pounds be equipped so that they can't travel at speeds greater than 65 miles per hour.
This is the latest attempt to require speed limiters on large commercial vehicles; previous attempts have not passed.
The goal of the bill is to reduce crashes. As shown in the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration's Large Truck Crash Causation Study, 23% of crashes involving large trucks occurred when the truck was going too fast for the road conditions. Equipping the truck with such mechanisms could result in a reduction of accidents.
In California in 2018, there were 12,788 accidents involving large trucks. In all, there were 396 fatalities and 5,348 injuries. That represents an increase from 2017, when there were 11,829 accidents and 4,977 injuries.
As an extra benefit to truck owners, lowering the speed limit should increase fuel efficiency and reduce costs relating to wear and tear.
The technology exists to retrofit current trucks with the mechanism to control their speed but equipping trucks currently on the roads in California and elsewhere is a great first step.
Limiting the speed by which a truck can travel has several positive effects, and a reduction in accidents is the biggest benefit of them all. Preventing injuries and fatalities should be the top goal of the trucking industry.
Anyone who is impacted by an accident with a large truck where the truck driver is at fault or the vehicle's maintenance is suspect has the right to seek legal remedies. We can hope, however, that injuries and deaths one day will significantly fall because of technology.