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NHTSA and FMCSA propose speed limiters for trucks

The interstate speed limit in South Carolina is 70 mph, but many road safety advocates believe that limits should be set lower for semi-tractor trailers that can weigh as much as 80,000 pounds when fully laden. Exceeding posted speed limits by 5 or 10 mph is normal behavior for a great many American drivers, but heavy trucks moving at 75 mph may be exceeding the safety ratings of their tires. The nonprofit road safety advocacy group Roadsafe suggested in 2006 that speed limiters be fitted to all vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds, and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration backed the idea in an Aug. 26 proposal.

The proposal, which is also supported by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, hopes to reduce the number of truck accidents and lower greenhouse emissions by cutting fuel use. Regulators will decide whether or not to pursue the measure after accepting comments from the public for 60 days. These comments will also help to determine if the proposed speed limiters will be activated when trucks reach 60, 65 or 68 mph.

There has been a mixed reaction to the proposal in the trucking industry. While the American Trucking Association is in favor of speed limiters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that reducing truck speeds will lead to more accidents with faster moving passenger vehicles.

Government data reveals that commercial vehicles are involved in more than 1,000 fatal accidents every year, and excessive speed is often a contributing factor in these crashes. The injuries suffered by truck accident victims are often debilitating in nature, and personal injury attorneys may seek compensation for them by filing lawsuits against either the truck drivers or trucking companies involved when negligence played a role.

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