Speeding Truck Drivers
Driving Too Fast: A Major Cause of Truck Accidents
Because 18-wheelers are so large and heavy, it is imperative that truckers operate their vehicles with the utmost care . Many drivers believe speeding isn't serious crime. While legal penalties for driving over the posted speed limit may not seem serious compared to penalties for drunk driving, the physical repercussions may be the same.
Studies have shown that speeding over the legal limit while behind the wheel of a large vehicle can cause injury or death.
What Is Speeding?
The obvious answer? Driving faster than the posted speed limit. However, the truth is that speeding can also refer to driving too fast for current conditions. For example, on some highways, there is a 65 mph speed limit, which may be perfectly safe. But, during heavy rain storms, it may be only safe to drive at 45 mph or slower.
What Makes Speeding So Dangerous
There are few things as dangerous as a speeding driver. In fact, per the NHTSA, one out of three fatal accidents involve speed as a contributing factor. This has led to speed being named at the third leading contributing factor to crashes in the nation. Part of what make speeding so dangerous is the fact that it is a habitual driving behavior—and while most people will state that they view speeding as a threat to their safety, they are also likely to admit that they themselves speed. According to once recent study, there are several reasons that drivers speed:
- In a hurry to get somewhere
- Not paying attention to their driving
- Not taking traffic laws seriously
- Don't think that they will get caught
- Don't view speeding as dangerous
For truck drivers, the answer to this is more nuanced. Regulations from the FMCSA restrict the number of hours that truckers can be on the road. In order to meet pressing deadlines, many drivers press the limits of safety to make time. It is important to look at all angles of the issue when making regulations that impact the trucking industry. With over 70% of American freight currently transported by big trucks and approximately 15.5 million of those trucks on the road, the problem isn’t going away soon. It will take careful consideration and cooperation from all involved in this industry to make lasting changes that promote safety for truck drivers and other vehicles.
Understanding the Danger of Speeding in Commercial Trucks
While speeding is a dangerous behavior for drivers of even the smallest vehicles, the hazards are only aggravated when they involve a large truck. Without a special permit, tractor-trailers can weigh up to 80,000 pounds. With this kind of weight propelling a vehicle, drivers must be extremely careful to operate their trucks safely. 18-wheelers take longer to slow and stop than regular vehicles. If a truck driver speeds, he/she may have difficulty slowing down. For instance, if a car swerves in front of speeding 18-wheeler, the driver could easily cause an accident.
Could Speed Limiters Be the Answer?
In August 2016, the American Trucking Association's decade-long effort to make speed limiters mandatory nearly came to fruition. The Department of Transportation started to make speed limiters a part of every 18-wheeler in the nation. However, in October 2016 the DOT put forward a proposal (with little data) to consider limiting speeds at 60, 65, or 68 mph. The ATA put out a statement disapproving, as they believed the only appropriate speed limit is 68 mph. Over 5,400 comments were attached to the proposal during the public comment period. However, the new White House administration's promise to cut regulations meant that speed limiters were off the agenda.
Speeding Big Rigs Put Tires Under Pressure
While a majority of tires have been built to only sustain speeds of 65 or 70 mph, the temptation to go faster is increasing as many states west of the Mississippi have raised highway speed limits to 75, 80, and even 85 mph. This includes Texas, Wyoming, Utah, and others. Some believe this dangerous move was done without consulting experts in the tire industry, as knowing that tire blowouts commonly occur above 75 mph should have discouraged such actions. Both safety advocates and tire experts argue that continually driving at speeds higher than the tire is rated to handle can create excessive heat that damages the rubber, potentially leading to dangerous blowouts.
Is there a disconnect with roadway safety & speed limits?
After a government document was discovered that detailed an investigation on truck tire failures, the Associated Press quickly pointed out that there was a disconnect between the states raising speed limits and the information that experts had on the prevalence of blowouts at such speeds. What did the states have to say about their decision to increase the limits? They either disregarded the tire safety ratings and warnings, refused to answer questions, or commented that they were unaware of such ratings. This indicates that many were simply unaware.
While states have the power to control speed limits, the NHTSA has the power to raise tire standards. However, NHTSA believes that the best way to prevent blowouts is not improved tire standards, but regulation through devices that prevent truck drivers from going over 75 mph. Unfortunately, this measure has been stalled for years and is still not approved. The good news is that many truck companies and operators are already beginning to implement similar devices. This points back to the idea that many believe will resolve the issue: truck drivers must be responsible for their speeds. These drivers should be aware of the limitations on their vehicle and tires and make sure they are complying with those safety standards, regardless of posted speed limits.
Investigating the Cause of a Serious Trucking Accident
Speeding and distracted driving are the two most common causes of commercial car wrecks, which is why some 18-wheelers have "black boxes" that record data and events. After an accident, special equipment is used to download evidence from the black box to determine the cause of the wreck. This data will indicate whether or not the truck driver was speeding at the time of the accident. When a truck driver speeds, he/she could be held responsible for an accident that occurs. At Arnold & Itkin, we believe that truck drivers should be held responsible for their negligent actions. If you have been hurt in a truck accident and believe that speeding contributed to your injury, talk to a skilled truck accident attorney from Arnold & Itkin! We are proud to offer free case evaluations.