Commercial vehicles in North Carolina and around the country that weigh more than 26,000 pounds would be required to use devices that limit their top speeds to 65 mph if a bipartisan bill introduced recently in the U.S. Senate becomes law. The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 also calls for trucks already equipped with speed limiters to have the devices set to 65 mph, but it would not require truck operators to install the technology in older tractor-trailers.
In a June 27 press release, the two senators backing the bill pointed out that speed-limiting devices are supported by a broad coalition of trade groups and road safety organizations. The proposed law has been endorsed by groups including Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Truck Safety Coalition, Road Safe America, and the Truckload Carriers Association.
Speed limiters have been fitted to virtually all large trucks sold in the United States for several years, but regulations that would mandate their use have been stalled in Congress since 2011. The rule, which has been delayed on 20 occasions, was published for comment by the Department of Transportation in September 2016. However, the rule as it is currently written would only apply to new trucks and not trucks already in service that are equipped with the technology. Speed limiters were included on the National Transportation Safety Board’s recent list of the 10 most urgently needed truck safety features.
The injuries suffered by occupants of other vehicles in commercial truck accidents are often extremely serious, and this is particularly true when excessive speed plays a role. When representing victims, experienced personal injury attorneys could seek to have the truck involved inspected to find out if a speed limiter was installed but not activated. Truck inspections could also reveal other evidence of negligence such as shoddy repair work, inadequate maintenance, or malfunctioning safety equipment.