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Truck crash study calls for speed limiters

Truck accident fatalities in Colorado and around the country continue to climb despite an overall reduction in the number of miles covered by commercial vehicles. This was one of the somber conclusions reached by Road Safe America after studying U.S. truck accident fatalities between 2009 and 2017. Worryingly, Colorado emerged as one of the five states with the highest percentage increase in tractor-trailer crash deaths.

The Georgia-based nonprofit group, which was founded by the parents of a boy killed in an auto accident, says that many of the 35,882 lives lost in truck crashes during the period scrutinized could have been saved by technology that is already available but not yet mandated by federal regulations. Devices that limit how fast tractor-trailers can travel have been standard equipment on American trucks for many years, and systems that apply air brakes automatically in emergency situations are available from all major tractor-trailer manufacturers.

The Road Safe America report points out that the states with the highest truck accident fatality rates usually have speed limits of 70 mph or higher. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration have proposed a rule that would require trucking companies to use speed limiters. Studies suggest that adopting this rule could save the logistics industry about $1 billion each year in fuel and save hundreds or even thousands of lives.

The electronics systems of modern tractor-trailers are extremely sophisticated, and they may provide accident investigators and personal injury attorneys with information that could reveal what transpired in the moments prior to a collision. Evidence revealing that no evasive action was taken by a truck driver might support allegations of distraction, and data revealing that a truck had not stopped for mandatory hours of service rest breaks may convince a jury that fatigue played a role.

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