Can reduced speed limits reduce accidents?

Two U.S. senators have proposed a bill that they believe will reduce vehicle accidents across the country. The bill would require all new semi-trucks to have electronic speed monitoring software installed that would not allow the semi to drive faster than 65 mph.

Many semi-trucks already have electronic speed limit monitors but may not use them because it is not federally required. This bill would mandate that all new trucks have the device in them and all heavy trucks with the device use it. But, it would not require trucks that are already on the road without the monitors, to have them installed.

The speed limit restriction could save lives

The proposed bill postulates that the number of roadway accidents would be reduced. Semi-truck tires are not designed to withstand speeds above 75 mph. Speed limits are as high as 80 mph in some states. If the truck driver does not know that their tires are not able to go the speed limit, they may blow one or multiple tires causing an accident.

Additionally, every year, approximately 1,115 fatal accidents involving heavy trucks going over 55 mph occur. According to an analysis from the Department of Transportation, limiting semi-truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63 to 213 lives per year.

Opposition to restriction

Although many highway safety advocates support this proposed bill, some trucking industry groups have objections. Opposers of the bill explain that it would cause a large speed gap between vehicles and heavy trucks. This speed differentiation could cause more accidents.

In states that have differential speed limits—meaning that vehicles are allowed to drive faster than heavy trucks—studies found that vehicles traveling 10-15 mph slower than the average speed of traffic, were at a higher risk of being involved in an accident.

Regardless of the speed limit, semi-truck drivers are encouraged to watch their speed and understand the risks associated with the cargo they are hauling and the roads they are driving on to avoid personal injury or injuring others.

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