Have you ever been driving at, or slightly above, the speed limit on a highway, only to be overtaken by a speeding big rig?
It’s scary to see a massive grille approaching in your rear-view before it changes lanes and passes. The whine of the diesel engine and whoosh of the long trailer makes for a few seconds of white-knuckle driving.
Trucks have a slower speed limit than the rest of traffic on most highways around the country, but drivers rarely adhere to that posted limit.
The U.S. government is considering new legislation that would electronically limit the top speed of all new semi trucks, making it impossible for truck drivers to exceed the speed of normal traffic.
The proposal, made late last week by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, would impose a nationwide limit by electronically capping speeds with a device on newly made U.S. vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds, including semi trucks and buses. Regulators are considering a cap of 60, 65, or 68 mph.
Whatever the speed limit, drivers would be physically prevented from exceeding it.
Truck drivers aren’t thrilled with the idea because they say it could create dangerous situations if they can’t keep up with traffic.
Virtually everyone else, though, including some of the largest trucking companies, support the plan because of its potential to reduce the severity of crashes and save fuel costs.
Then there’s this: Most tires used on big rigs aren’t rated for more than 75 mph. If that speed is exceeded, tires can blow up. How many times have you had to swerve to avoid piles of shredded rubber on the highway? With a lower speed limit, incidents of tire blowouts would decrease.
“While it may seem that the industry would be upset over the idea of slowing down trucks, that doesn’t seem to be the case. Both the American Trucking Association (ATA) and Road Safe America (RSA) have been pushing for the use of speed limiters for roughly a decade. Road Safe America also has backing from several major trucking companies like Schneider National, ATS Logistics, J.B. Hunt, and England.”
The government said capping speeds for large vehicles will reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks that occur each year and save $1 billion in fuel costs.
The NHTSA proposal is subject to public comment before becoming final.
Regulating the speed of big rigs makes sense to us, but what do you think?
Should the speed of semi trucks and buses be regulated to make highways safer?