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Can We Prevent Speed-Related Truck Accidents?

In 2014, almost 4,000 people were killed in large-truck crashes while another 111,000 were injured. Considering the size of commercial trucks, and their lack of easy maneuverability, a crash involving one could involve an entire side of the freeway. An 18-wheeler is legally able to carry up to 80,000 pounds and needs 40% more time to stop, as they have only 10 brakes total. Speeding, therefore, makes commercial trucks significantly more dangerous than most vehicles.

Speeding in Commercial Vehicles

A study done by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) looked at 120,000 large-truck crashes between April 2001 and December 2003. They reviewed several factors that accounted for the accidents, including fault with the driver, fault with the vehicle, and fault with the environment. While the last is hard to predict, and safety regulations could be increased for vehicle maintenance for the second, the driver is the most difficult variable to predict. They identified four categories in accidents where the driver was mostly culpable:

  • Non-performance
  • Recognition
  • Decision
  • Performance

Non-performance included falling asleep or another form of physical impairment, recognition included a kind of distraction or inobservance, decision included speeding or misjudging conditions, and performance included panic or poor directional control. At least one of these things might potentially be protected against using a speed-limiting device.

The NHTSA and FMCSA proposed the equipment of one of these speed-limiting devices on heavy-duty vehicles. According to their estimates, the use of this technology could not only save lives but save more than $1 billion in annual fuel costs. The proposal suggests applying these devices to commercial vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds and wouldn’t allow trucks to go more than 68 MPH on the road. It’s unclear whether or not the proposal will be implemented under recent presidential administration, as all federal agencies have been prevented from enacting any new regulations.

If you’ve been injured in a truck accident, or you know someone who has, contact us to speak with a Houston truck accident attorney today.