68 MPH Rule
Last month, the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) proposed a rule that would require all new commercial vehicles to have speed governors. This rule applies to vehicles with with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds. A governor is an electric device that limits a vehicle’s top to under 68 mph. Why? For safety. Trucks.com had the full story on this new rule to decrease the number of highway fatalities and truck accidents.
This proposal came in as a joint effort with DOT, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
Slow is Safe When Dealing with Truck Accidents
Mark Rosekind, NHTSA administrator, stated that, “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.” Large vehicle accidents accounted for nearly 4,000 deaths in 2014, and traffic safety regulators believe that this new speed limit rule will reduce these tragic crash statistics involving large trucks. They estimate that 1,000 people are killed annually by speeding trucks.
The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that a speed cap of 68 mph on heavy commercial vehicles would save 27 to 96 lives a year in speed-related accidents. The lower the speed the greater the estimate of lives saved. At 60 mph, they estimate 162 to 498 lives saved annually! High speed limits has been a contributing factor to tens of thousands of deaths in highway accidents over the last 20 years, according to the IIHS.
The Department of Transportation predicts that if this new rule becomes law it can save more than $1 billion a year in fuel costs. In the 68 mph proposal, DOT offered insights as to how much money an independent tractor trailer could save on fuel costs annually depending on speed. At 60 mph, semi-trucks will burn $2,500-$6,100 less per year on diesel. At 65mph, truck drivers can still save $1,400 to $3,000 a year on fuel, and at 68 mph the savings can be anywhere between $640 to $1,400.
All that fuel being saved means that it is not being burned and poured into the air through their exhaust pipe. Burning less fuel means less pollution in the air.
Truck Driver Push Back
The benefits to the speed limit proposal are clear, but some truck drivers are pushing back against this proposal. Joe Rajkovacz, director of governmental affairs for the Western States Trucking Association, said, “This is just another useless government mandate since the fixed limit is likely to be higher that the speed trucks can legally travel in many states.” Stating the issue with older model trucks that do not have electronic governor installed. Will they need to be installed at the truck owner’s expense or be grandfathered in?
Those that are opposed to the 68 mph rule say that it may be a way for large trucking companies to level the playing field. This rule would allow all drivers to run at the same speed. Truck drivers say that it may create unsafe road conditions if all trucks are limited to a lower speed limit.
A situation where two trucks are side by side and unable to pass each because of the governor could create a rolling roadblock. The only options being for one semi-truck to slow down to let the other pass. Truck drivers may not want to slow down, which can also create potential road rage for drivers stuck behind them.
Once its passed into law the 68 mph rule won’t be in effect until 2018. There are pros and cons to this rule that is subjective different people, but safety is always a priority. According to the NHTSA, 85% of fatal highway accidents involved large or heavy trucks in 2014. That accounted for over 100,000 injuries and over 3,000 deaths in bus accidents, truck accidents, or commercial vehicle accidents. Accident attorneys help people who sustained injuries after crashing dealing with commercial trucks.