The speed at which commercial trucks drive makes a big impact on the severity of truck accidents. Because high-speed collisions are so much riskier than crashes at slower speeds, Department of Transportation (DOT) is arguing for speed limiters to be required on commercial trucks. Speed limiters would also save on fuel, but the expense of using these limiters is estimated to be around $1.5 billion due to drivers being on the road longer, according to The Hill.
The Hill indicates the DOT wants to impose a 60 mile per hour speed limit for trucks, which is lower than the current limit in many areas.
DOT, in connection with Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, is also proposing the mandated installation of automatic speed limiters. DOT rules indicate the speed limiter devices they wish to require in trucks would restrict truck speeds to between 60 and 68 miles per hour. When enforced by speed-limiting devices, truckers would not be able to go over this speed limit, even if they want to.
DOT believes limiting the speed at which trucks can travel could save up to 500 lives annually, depending upon what limit is set. If truck drivers have a maximum speed limit of 60 MPH, between 162 and 498 lives would be saved yearly. If the maximum speed is set at 68 MPH, around 27 lives would be saved each year.
Speed limiters would save lives for several reasons. Speed limiters reduce the possibility of crashes occurring since slower speed trucks are less likely to become involved in an accident. Speed limiters would also slow down the speed at which truck crashes occur, which would save lives. As DOT explains: "Impact force during a crash is related to vehicle speed, and even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact."
Automotive Fleet explains even minor changes in speed limits can affect accidents. Research has shown the average driver has around a five percent chance of involvement in an auto accident. For every one percent increase in speed, however, a driver's risk of an accident increases by two percent. For every one percent increase in speed, the risk of a serious injury also increases by three percent while the chance of an auto accident death increases by four percent.
If drivers are going faster than surrounding traffic, the risks are even worse. Driving 80 MPH when traffic is moving at 70 MPH increases the possibility of a collision by 31 percent, causing a 49 percent increase in the risk of injury and a 71 percent increase in the risk of fatalities.
The reason speeding increases accident risks so much is because the force and impact of a crash increases "exponentially" with speed. Collision forces in a crash at 50 MPH are four times as strong as force at 25 MPH and collision forces in a crash at 75 MPH are nine times stronger than forces at 25 MPH.