According to the executive summary of the agencies’ proposed rule, studies show that semi-truck crashes that occur at high speeds are more serious than low-speed crashes. This may sound obvious, but it’s important to have the science to back up the reasoning behind rules like this, as the trucking industry often fights back against proposed safety regulations. As speed increases, so does kinetic energy – something that is especially relevant in crashes involving heavy, massive tractor-trailers. Higher speeds also reduce the effectiveness of existing safety features, such as restraint devices, highway barriers, and guardrails.
As reported in Occupational Health & Safety magazine, the NHTSA and FMCSA have not indicated at what speed they will set the cap, but they have considered several different speed limits, including 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour. In addition to saving lives and reducing truck accidents, the agencies also say the use of speed caps would save $1 billion in fuel costs annually.
Currently, the proposed rule would not require semi-truck operators and carriers to retrofit their vehicles to include speed-limiting devices, as regulators have decided that the costs of doing so would be excessive. If passed as-is, the new rule would only mandate speed-limiting technology in newly manufactured tractor-trailers. However, the rule could change as it makes its way through the public comment and final approval process.