Speed limiters will soon be required on trucks

The U.S. Department of Transportation has announced that it will soon begin requiring the use of speed limiters in semis and other large trucks on U.S. highways. Supporters of the proposed rule say it could prevent approximately 1,115 fatal truck accidents each year in the United States.

The proposed rule would require speed limiters on trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds and traveling on roads with speed limits of 55 miles per hour or above. The DOT has not yet indicated what the top speed would be for trucks affected by the rule, but the Claims Journal reports that previous proposals have suggested a limit of 68 miles per hour.

What are speed limiters?

A speed limiter, which is also called a speed governor or Electronic Control Module, is an electronic system that can be installed in a vehicle's engine to prevent it from traveling above a preset speed. The system works by using sensors to monitor the vehicle's speed and restricting the flow of fuel and air into the engine when the vehicle reaches its maximum speed, thus preventing further acceleration.

Supporters of the proposed rule say the use of speed limiters on large trucks in the U.S. could help eliminate fatalities by reducing the stopping distances for those vehicles, making drivers better able to respond to road hazards and changing traffic conditions.

Truck accidents pose grave risk to car drivers

When compared to other vehicles, large trucks actually have a lower per-mile crash rate, according to data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. Still, DOT estimates show that there are about half a million truck accidents per year in the United States.

Furthermore, when crashes do occur involving semis and other large commercial trucks, they are more likely to be fatal - most often for the occupants of the other vehicle. This is due in large part to the vast difference in size and weight between the vehicles. A semi truck can often weigh as much as 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle, with the result that car drivers face a much higher risk of serious injury or death when they are involved in a truck accident.

Design differences between the vehicle types also pose a heightened risk to car occupants. Because semis generally ride much higher off the ground than passenger cars, the smaller vehicle may travel beneath the truck and be crushed in the event of a collision. When this occurs, car occupants face a very high risk of death or catastrophic injury.

Get legal help after a truck crash

If you or a family member has been hurt in a crash with a semi or other large truck, talk to a lawyer about the possibility of seeking compensation for your injuries, lost wages, medical bills and other damages resulting from the crash.