DOT proposes to slow down trucks to save lives

The Department of Transportation has proposed regulations that would limit speeds on large trucks.

For many people, driving on a highway next to large trucks is a scary experience for good reason. With the speed limits 70 miles-per-hour or higher on many highways, if a truck were involved in a collision with a car or smaller vehicle, catastrophe would likely ensue, due to the high speed and the truck's large size.

The Department of Transportation (DOT), cognizant of the problem, has studied the effects of the speed of large trucks on truck accidents for several years. Having analyzed the results of its research, it recently decided to act to reduce the number of truck accidents by requiring all trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds that travel on roads with a speed limit of 55 mph to install a speed limiter. Speed limiters work by cutting off fuel and air to the truck's engine once a certain speed has been reached, making it impossible to travel faster.

The DOT did not elaborate on which speed it would choose as the maximum speed. However, previous proposals by the agency suggest that 68 mph would be chosen as the top speed. By limiting the speed on large trucks, the DOT hopes that it will reduce the number of fatal truck accidents, since trucks will not require as long of a distance to come to a stop at a reduced speed. This fact should allow them to avoid more accidents.

In support of their reasoning that lower speeds will mean fewer fatalities, the DOT cited studies finding that about 73 percent of truck accident fatalities take place on roads with a speed limit of 55 mph or higher.

Additionally, the DOT believes that the time to act on the issue is now, because recent statistics indicate that the number of fatal truck accidents have been increasing. According to data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, approximately 3,921 people were killed in truck accidents in 2012, a 3.7 percent increase over 2011.

The DOT's proposed changes have been submitted for approval to the Secretary of Transportation. If they are approved, they could go into effect beginning in October 2014.

Truck accidents in Texas

According to the Texas Department of Transportation, truck accidents are a major problem in the Lone Star State. The 2013 data shows that there were 20,615 accidents in the state involving a tractor-trailer or semi-truck. Of these accidents, 2,954 resulted in serious injuries, 2,834 in non-serious injuries and 359 in fatalities.

When a truck collides with a smaller vehicle, there is a great risk of injury or death due to the gaping difference in weight and size. As a result, medical bills following the accident can be astronomical. Since many truck accidents are caused by negligence on the part of the driver or trucking company, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney following an accident. An attorney can assist you with recovering the damages that you may be entitled to under the law.

Keywords: truck accidents, speeding