Feds Eye Limiting Maximum Speed of Tractor Trailer to Reduce Accidents

by | May 7, 2014 | Truck Accident

Oklahoma Truck Accident Attorney

With Interstate 40 cutting through its mid-section, Oklahoma is at the heart of the nation’s trucking industry, and the state is no stranger to wrecks involving semis.

Motorists who cringe at the sight of semis bearing down on them could get some relief through a federal effort to limit the speed of tractor-trailers.

The U.S. Department of Transportation is proposing a mandate for speed governors on semis weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The goal is to reduce the distance it takes for trucks to stop in emergencies and avoid truck crashes, according to autoblog.com.

No limit is specified yet, but the American Trucking Association, which previously supported a maximum speed for big trucks, has suggested a 68-mph limit as a maximum. Some trucking companies already equip their trucks with governors.

Of course, opposition to the proposed rule is expected, and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association is expressing opposition to the proposal. The association contends the speed differential is the primary factor to crashes involving big trucks rather than sheer velocity.

Although the Independent Drivers Association says traffic is safer when everyone travels at roughly the same speed, it argues that speed limiters would make it difficult for semis to pass each other, creating elephant races on the nation’s highways.

Oklahoma Crash Deaths

Oklahoma reported 124 traffic fatalities involving large trucks in 2012, up from 112 the previous year, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

To reduce truck crashes, the National Transportation Safety Board sent a list of recommendations this year to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. They include adding protection along the sides of trailers to keep cars from going underneath, adding blind-spot reduction systems, and requiring that VIN information be included in wreck reports, according to an autoblog.com report.

The speed limiter regulation could take months to go through the federal government’s bureaucracy. That leaves plenty of time for debate during a public comment period that could be scheduled for October.

In the meantime, Road Safe America encourages drivers to follow these tips to avoid wrecks with big trucks:

  • Be alert when approaching a tractor-trailer truck.
  • Stay away from a trucker’s blind spots. If you can’t see the truck’s mirrors, the driver probably can’t see you.
  • Don’t pass on the right when the truck is turning right.
  • Never cut in front of a large truck or bus because they require a greater distance for stopping than a passenger vehicle.
  • When passing a semi, accelerate and hold a consistent speed. Wait until you can see the entire cab in the rear-view mirror before changing lanes.
  • Watch for a truck’s turn signal before attempting to pass it as it makes a turn.
  • Allow semis four to six seconds of driving space in wet conditions.
  • Don’t cut off a truck in traffic to turn or make an exit.