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Commercial Truck Speedometers Target of New DOT Rule




by:
Brayton Purcell LLP - Novato Office

 
June 26, 2014

To combat the continued rise in commercial trucking accidents, the DOT has proposed a new rule that aims to regulate the speed limits of certain commercial carriers.

According to recent estimates, a half a million auto accidents involving 18-wheelers or commercial trucks occur every year in the United States. Sadly, many of these accidents result is serious injury to those involved, particularly individuals in small passengers cars. This is because most commercial trucks weigh 30 times more than the average passenger vehicle.

Federal agencies that oversee the automobile industry such as the Department of Transportation, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration, continuously implement policies and regulations to help mitigate trucking accidents.

The Department of Transportation, also referred to as DOT, recently proposed a new rule that aims to regulate the speed limits of certain commercial carriers.

Speed limiters; Electronic Control Modules

Specifically, the new rule would mandate commercial motor vehicles, or CMVs as they are often referred to, install speed limiters or Electronic Control Modules.

The devices would regulate the speed limits of the carriers by cutting off the air and fuel supply to the engine of the truck once the programmable speed limit was reached; thereby barring the driver from going any faster.

The concept was first instigated back in 2006 when data on commercial vehicle accidents was released. The information revealed that the faster a CMV was traveling at the time of an auto accident, the higher the likelihood of death to those involved in the crash.

Thanks to the laws of physics, this is because heavy commercial trucks are difficult to stop quickly on such short notice. Large trucks weigh in the thousands of pounds and therefore require longer distances to stop than an average passenger vehicle. A truck's inability to stop when necessary results in a higher likelihood of a collision with other passenger vehicles.

The future of speed limiters

The new rule is still in the preliminary stage and has yet to become a reality; it still needs approval by the Secretary of Transportation and then the White House Office of Management and Budget. However, it's expected to pass through both and be implemented by the end of this year.

Some, however, suggest that ECMs could be mandatory in passenger vehicles someday. Some vehicle manufacturers have already implemented a similar, voluntary technological feature in various cars today. And, it seems, a congressional committee is presently looking into the option.

Given the hazards commercial vehicles pose to so many traveling on America's roadways today, it's certainly within the realm of possibility.



 

The views expressed in this document are solely the views of the author and not Martindale-Hubbell. This document is intended for informational purposes only and is not legal advice or a substitute for consultation with a licensed legal professional in a particular case or circumstance.
 

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