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Federal agencies call for speed limiters in all heavy trucks

Many of the passenger vehicles sold in California and around the country are equipped with technology that prevents them from being driven at unsafe speeds. These speed limiters generally work by cutting off the fuel supply when vehicles reach speeds that are usually far higher than any posted limit in the U.S., but a proposal by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration calls for this type of technology to restrict the speeds of all vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds to 68 mph or lower.

The federal safety agencies announced on Aug. 26 that a decision whether or not to push ahead with the proposal would be made after comments have been received from the general public. These comments will also be used to help determine the appropriate maximum speed for heavy trucks. The proposal comes a decade after the nonprofit group Roadsafe first called for speed limiters to be made mandatory in semi-tractor trailers in 2006.

While the American Trucking Association joined Roadsafe in calling for speed limiters, many truck drivers oppose the measure. They say that limiting the speed of large trucks will result in far more accidents between slow-moving semis and passenger vehicles traveling at far higher speeds. Most road safety advocates disagree, and they point out that the posted speed limits in some states are actually higher than the speed tolerances of many truck tires.

Driving at a speed that is unsafe for prevailing road conditions is always reckless, but the dangers are magnified when the vehicle involved is a tractor-trailer weighing as much as 80,000 pounds. Personal injury attorneys seeking compensation for truck accident victims may review police reports to find out if the commercial vehicles involved were properly maintained or being driven by people who were impaired at the time.

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