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Speed limiter devices for all commercial trucks may soon be law

Written by Steve Gursten Posted July 13th, 2016

Safety measure, now delayed more than 20 times, would require large trucks to have speed limiter devices to cap maximum speeds to a predetermined miles per hour


Imagine a moving brick wall.

Now imagine a moving brick wall coming at you at excessive speed.

The fact that many trucks on our roads speed doesn’t surprise anyone. All you need to do is drive on a freeway or highway and you will soon see it yourself. But there may be something that can soon be done about it.

A requirement for the use of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks may soon be law, as an amendment introduced by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.), to direct the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final rule was recently passed by the Senate. It will be included in a transportation funding measure being debated in the Senate.

A speed limiter is a governor device used to limit the top speed of a vehicle.

Our attorneys strongly support this proposed rule. It has the potential to greatly reduce the number of truck accidents caused by speeding trucks and commercial motor vehicles that are driving at excessive speeds. Besides violating speed limit laws, speeding trucks also increases the risk of serious injury or death for any motor vehicle that a truck crashes into.

After the tragic 2015 truck accident death of five nursing students on a Georgia highway, Sen. Isakson called on the administration to act expeditiously to adopt this long overdue and much-needed safety measure, which would require large trucks to have speed limiter devices to cap maximum speeds to a predetermined miles per hour.

Truck Accident Roundtable Co-Founder Joe Fried was one of the key attorneys who litigated this terrible Atlanta case, which resulted in an $80 million global settlement. The settlement is notable, but not because of the dollar amount as many people or attorneys first assume. It is notable because of Joe’s settlement requirement that the trucking companies involved would make changes to prevent future crashes. Some of these changes were internal operating procedures to prevent unqualified drivers from slipping though the screening process. The other is a commitment by the trucking companies to implement the latest “forward looking collision avoidance technology” on all their new trucks.

Sen. Isakson says this safety measure could have prevented the tragic deaths of the nursing students, especially since 2011, the Department of Transportation has delayed the proposed rule-making of the “speed limiter rule” more than 20 times.

The deadline for publishing the proposed rule had previously been delayed to the spring of 2016. To date, a proposed rule has yet to be published.

According to the DOT, the “speed limiter rule” would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed. The department has also found the rule would decrease the estimated 1,115 fatal crashes a year involving vehicles with a weight of 26,000 pounds or more on roads with posted speed limits of 55 mph or more.

Related info:

FMSCA mandates electronic logging devices (ELDs) in newer semi-trucks, buses

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.