In an effort to reduce the 1,115 yearly fatal crashes involving heavy trucks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) seeks to forcibly limit how fast trucks, buses and other large vehicles can travel on the nation’s highways.

The nationwide limit would electronically cap speeds at 60, 65, or 68 mph with a device on newer U.S. vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. Drivers would be physically prevented from exceeding it.

NHTSA claims limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 60 mph could save up to 498 lives annually, while others say that limiting speed of heavy vehicles would create dangerous interactions with vehicles, as faster cars slow down for trucks.

There is another fact to consider. While many states permit highway speeds of 80 mph or more, most truck tires are not designed to go faster than 75 mph. Tire manufacturers say traveling faster than that can cause tires to fail and blow out, creating safety issues.

Speed Limit Petition Introduced in 2006

The petition to limit large vehicle speed was first introduced in 2006 by the nonprofit group Roadsafe America, founded by Steve Owings and his wife Susan, whose son Cullum was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer in 2002. The nonprofit was later joined by the American Trucking Association, the nation’s largest trucking industry group, and continues to push NHTSA to force heavy vehicles to limit their speeds.

Costs of Speed Limiting Technology

Retrofitting vehicles made after 1990 with the speed-limiting technology could cost from $100 to $2000 per vehicle, and changes to some engines could also be required, increasing the costs. Heavy vehicles made before 1990 don’t have the capacity to add the technology.

NHTSA says its proposal is based on available safety data and the additional benefit of better fuel economy, and will take public comment for 60 days, then determine the final limit and decide if the regulation should be put in place.

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