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Lawmakers 65-mph truck limiters: Impact in Ohio and Kentucky

Will lower speed limits for semis reduce truck accidents?

Tractor-trailer truck accidents can have catastrophic and even fatal consequences. Unfortunately, these types of accidents are not uncommon. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration reports 4,237 fatal truck accidents occurred in 2017. Of these, speed was a factor as at least 817 were traveling over 70 miles per hour.

Ohioans have experienced an increase in semi-truck accidents. According to the Ohio State Highway Patrol, there were 92 fatalities from truck accidents in 2016, 118 in 2017 and a reported 121 in 2018. Kentucky has experienced similar issues. The Kentucky Transportation Center Research Report shows a 13 % increase in truck crashes in 2016 compared to the average for the four previous years. This translates to 9,380 accidents and 93 fatalities from semi-truck crashes in the state in 2016.

Ohio and Kentucky are not alone. Other states throughout the country have also reported increases in tragic trucking accidents. In response, lawmakers are considering a new law that may help reduce the risk of these tragic, high speed crashes on a national level.

What can be done to help limit the speed of semi-trucks?

A group of lawmakers recently introduced a proposal that would limit the speed of heavy trucks to 65 mph on our nation’s highways. As currently written, the proposal would require new tractor-trailer trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds to have a speed limiter. These devices help to control the top speed of the truck. The law would require truck companies set these limiters to 65 miles per hour.

Although the law would not require the retrofitting of existing trucks with the devices, it would require those that already have the devices to put them to use. The rule also requires the secretary of the United States Department of Transportation (DOT) to provide standards and rules to help better ensure the accuracy of the speed limiting devices.

Not everyone is in favor of the proposal. Critics note the country has moved towards increased highway speed limits. They state having trucks limited to a slower speed could result in traffic congestion and potentially increase the risk of accidents. Instead, they say a better solution is a uniform national speed limit for all vehicles.

If successful, the proposal would circumvent the current administration’s delay of a similar proposed rule. At the time the government was considering the rule, the DOT wrote the limit would save 63 to 214 lives annually.

What if you or someone you love is injured in a truck accident?

Legal remedies may be available for those who are involved in an accident with a semi-truck or who lose loved ones from injuries suffered in these crashes. A victim has several options to consider when building a case. Three examples of potential liability include:

  • Truck driver. One of the first questions involving liability involves an investigation of the driver. The driver can be liable for the accident in several situations. As noted above, a failure to follow the speed limit is one indication of liability. Another area to investigate is whether the truck driver carried a commercial driving license. A failure to have this license can increase the driver’s liability.
  • Truck company. The company that employs the truck driver may also bear some liability for the accident. One potential example to consider is whether the company followed maximum weight restrictions when loading the truck.
  • Truck manufacturer or repairer. If the accident was the result of a defective component of the truck, like its air brake systems, the manufacturer or repairer may be at least partially liable.

If liability is established, the victim can receive monetary damages to help cover the costs that result from the accident. Costs that can include medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering and other expenses. If you or a loved one is a victim of a truck accident, it is wise to seek legal counsel to discuss your options.

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