Lawmakers in Washington, D.C. want to make the highways safer in the United States through a bill that would limit the speed of semi-trucks. Bipartisan legislation is under consideration that would create an electronic limitation for all vehicles that would limit them to 65 mph.
The bill is the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act. If it were to pass, then it would become mandatory for new tractor-trailers to come with electronic speed limiters. Vehicles with this technology already installed would also be included with the legislation, but the bill does not require older semi-trucks to undergo retrofitting.
Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware) introduced the bill in July 2019. If passed, sponsors of the bill claim that it could save over 1,100 lives each year.
Is Electronic Speed Limitation Necessary?
The U.S. Department of Transportation believes that electronically limiting the speed of semis will save lives, but other industry professionals are not convinced. When Class 7 or Class 8 trucks receive these limitations, then it increases the number of traffic interactions that occur on highways and side streets.
Most crashes that involve trucks of this size occur on roads where the posted speed limit is already lower than what this new legislation would mandate. When a tractor-trailer is driving at 40 mph, then the vehicle travels 45 feet further than the average car, truck, or SUV when applying the brakes to generate a complete stop.
Semi-trucks need 525 feet at this slow speed
Although there has been a 40% increase in the number of fatal accidents involving buses and large trucks from 2009-2017, the figures decreased by 34% from 2005-2009.
Tires Already Limit the Speed of Semi-Trucks
Another point of opposition to the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act is the fact that there are no big-rig tires rated to reach speeds over 81 mph. Most of them are rated to perform at 75 mph or less.
70% of companies are already regulating their drivers to the 65 mph speed mandate already.
Proponents of the legislation say that it is the 30% of drivers who do not receive any rules or mandates that they want to regulate. There is a significant change in the stopping distance of a semi-truck driving at 65 mph instead of 75 mph at the maximum-rated speed of the equipped tires.
The freight industry also has concerns about other driver behaviors. If speeding occurs, then there is an excellent chance that there are other poor decisions happening behind the wheel.
A driver who is going 10 mph over the speed limit is 2.5 times more likely to be talking on the phone while on the road. They are also two times more likely to be eating, drinking, or taking care of their personal hygiene.
Drivers are 1.7 times more likely to be doing their paperwork behind the wheel if they engage in speeding as well.
Those who average more than 10 mph over the speed limit are also 69% more likely to be involved in a collision.
Forcibly slowing semi-trucks might add more in shipping costs, but it could also save lives. You can follow the progress of the bill through the Congressional website.