Can reduced speed limits reduce accidents?

Two U.S. senators have proposed a bill that they believe will reduce 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 the tires are not able to withstand the speed limit, they may blow one or multiple tires causing an accident.

Additionally, 1,115 fatal accidents involving heavy trucks going over 55 mph occur annually. Limiting semi-truck speeds to 65 mph would save 63 to 213 lives per year.

This bill is supported by many highway safety groups but there are opposers too.

Opposition to the restriction

Opposers of the bill claim that it could cause more accidents because the speed difference between semi-trucks and cars would be significant.

In states that have differential speed limits—meaning that vehicles are allowed to drive faster than heavy trucks—had issues with an increased number of accidents. 

Regardless of the speed limit, both vehicle and semi-truck drivers should be conscious of the speed of traffic. Significant speed gaps could cause more accidents.

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