DOT Requires New Devices To Reduce Speed-related Truck Accidents

If you’ve ever rented and driven a large vehicle like a moving truck, you have probably noticed that large and heavy vehicles handle a lot differently than smaller passenger vehicles. Their extra size and weight means that coming to a complete stop takes more time and distance than it would in your car.

Imagine, then, how much more difficult it would be to stop an 18-wheeler traveling at highway speeds. Some of these road giants weigh up to 80,000 pounds. Needless to say, commercial truckers who drive much faster than the posted speed limit greatly increase the risk of causing a fatal truck accident.

Thankfully, technology exists that can cap how fast a given semi-truck will be able to travel. The devices are officially called Electronic Control Modules but are often referred to as speed limiters.

Many trucking companies already require ECMs in their fleets, but some companies and independent truck drivers continue to resist use of these important safety devices. That may soon be changing with the recent announcement of a new mandate by the U.S. Department of Transportation.

The DOT announced that as soon as October of this year, ECMs will be required in trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds and traveling on roads with speed limits of 55 mph or higher. Statistical data show that 73 percent of all fatal crashes involving large trucks occur on roads allowing for speeds of 55 mph or above. When implemented, the DOT’s mandate could reduce fatal crashes by an estimated 1,115 accidents per year.

ECMs are a smart, relatively low-cost investment that could save a significant number of lives. As such, opponents of the devices will have a difficult time arguing against the DOT’s mandate. Hopefully, all drivers will soon enjoy safer highways here in Michigan and across the country.

Source: Claims Journal, "Fed to Require Speed Limiters on Trucks," Gary Wickert, May 1, 2014

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