A group of road safety advocacy groups including the Truck Safety Coalition and Georgia-based Road Safe America have called on Congress to implement commercial vehicle safety regulations that were proposed 12 years ago. The coalition thinks that an upcoming infrastructure bill could provide lawmakers with a way to avoid partisan politics and get the regulations passed.
The commercial vehicle regulations at the center of the political quagmire would require tractor-trailer operators to switch on the speed limiting devices that are fitted to nearly all large trucks and install automatic emergency braking systems. Trade groups including the American Trucking Associations are opposed to automatic braking systems because of the costs involved, but they do support speed limiters as long as both cars and trucks are required to use them.
Road safety groups expect opposition to new regulations from organizations lobbying on behalf of the logistics industry, and they counter them with research showing just how many lives the proposed rules could save. According to a study released by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, switching off speed limiters increases the chances of a truck being involved in a speed-related crash by about 200 percent. Another study concluded that about 2,500 truck accidents would be prevented by automatic emergency braking systems every year.
While switching on speed limiting devices may not currently be required by FMCSA regulations, failing to do so could be cited as an example of reckless behavior by personal injury attorneys pursuing legal actions on behalf of truck accident victims who were injured in speed-related collisions. Attorneys might call on vehicle inspectors to check tractor-trailers for other signs of negligence such as missing safety equipment, slapdash repairs, substandard replacement parts or general neglect.