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Advocates seek action on stalled truck safety measures

Each day, there are over 1,000 crashes in this country involving trucks. Excessive speed has been blamed for many of these truck accidents. However, existing technology has not been fully implemented that can help prevent deadly crashes.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published proposed regulations that would require the use of speed limiting devices for large trucks. Safety proponents, seeking action on these measures, have sought legislation mandating the use of speed limiters and automatic emergency braking systems in trucks.

These devices restrict speeds to 65 mph and have been standard equipment in most trucks in this country for over 20 years. However, there is no requirement that the limiters must be turned on and set. This distinguishes the United States from Australia, Germany, France, Japan and the United Kingdom, who all impose this requirement. Trucks not using speed limiters had a 200 percent greater highway-speed crash rate than trucks using these devices, according to an FMSCA study.

Safety proponents have also called for laws requiring installation of AEB systems, where sensors automatically stop a truck collision. Proposed regulations on this technology have not been acted upon. The NHTSA found that current-generation AEB systems could prevent over 2,500 accidents each year. Tragically, according to the NHTSA, there are 166 preventable deaths and 8,000 injuries each year the technology is delayed.

The American Trucking Association, a trade organization for large carriers, has supported mandated speed limiters set at 65 mph for trucks manufactured after 1992. This support, however, is contingent upon a national speed limit of 65 mph for trucks and cars. The ATA claims that there would be wide divergences between trucks restricted to 65 mph and local traffic traveling at higher speed without a national speed limit.

Victims of truck accidents may be entitled to compensation for their injuries. An attorney can gather evidence and pursue this right through legal action.

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