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Speed kills, and nowhere is this adage truer than on freeways and highways that criss-cross the nation. One proposal quickly gaining traction on the national level is to install speed-limiting devices in all commercial trucks and tractor trailers in order to reduce the risks of devastating truck accidents. What is involved in this proposal and how close to reality is the technology?

Prior speed limitations

Currently, in Tennessee, trucks cannot legally go above miles per hour on any roadway, public or private. The statewide highway speed limit for all vehicles is 70 mph, except on divided highways where it’s 65mph. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) policy would limit truck speeds to somewhere between 60 and 68 miles per hour. At a 65 mph limitation, an estimate of between 63 and 214 lives per year would be saved. At a 60 mile per hour limit, the NHTSA estimates that between 162 and 498 lives would be saved per year in the US. Based on the various speed choices, the NHTSA offers the idea of a technological solution, a device that would monitor acceleration as well as vehicle speed.

Concerns and the need for new technology

One major drawback to the NHTSA plan is that there is no standardized device or technology currently on the market or commercially available to fulfill these needs, nor any outside oversight of the application and adherence to the current restrictions. One workaround proposed is frequent inspection of the On Board Diagnostic Module of each vehicle. Another disadvantage is the inherent cost of retrofitting all current vehicles in service. This cost might, however, be balanced out by savings in fuel, wear and tear on vehicles and reductions in insurance premiums.

Current status

As of May 2017, the proposal remains in a public commentary phase. This means that no specific legislation is expected in the near future, despite the literally hundreds of lives and thousands of dollars that could be saved via the bill. A few states have taken the issue into their own hands legislatively, but most of the resultant laws focus on lowering the speed limits for trucks, rather than on applying technology to enforce such laws.  Yet another option to make the speed limitations currently in place more compulsory would be the implementation of autonomous driving systems, or driverless technologies. Such a change might be costly in the short term, but compared to the current costs to lives and property, could perhaps be a safer long-term solution to the problems posed by truck accidents.

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck crash, you may need to seek legal from a qualified Nashville truck accident attorney to get compensation. At the Rocky McElhaney Law Firm, we’re gladiators in suits who fight for you.  Please call us at 615.246.5549, or contact us to schedule your consultation in our Nashville, Hendersonville, or Knoxville office today.