The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), in conjunction with the American Transportation Research Institute and the Virginia Tech Transportation Institute, recently published findings from a study that sought to analyze the effects of speed limiters installed in commercial vehicles.

The study overwhelmingly showed that speed limiters have a profound impact on reducing or mitigating truck crashes, as well as their severity.

Speed limiters, sometimes called governors, are devices that electronically monitor and cap a vehicle's top speed. When implemented, speed limiters use multiple sensors to calculate a vehicle's speed and then transmit it to the engine's computer. When a programmed top speed is reached, the computer restricts the flow of air and gas to the engine and controls the combustion process to prevent a vehicle from going too fast. Critics of speed limiter technology can no longer deny their safety benefits, based on the FMCSA study findings.

To perform its analysis, study researchers reviewed actual crash data that was compiled by trucking companies. The data included over 15,000 truck accidents of varying degrees from 20 different fleets, which contained around 138,000 trucks. Overall, the study's findings indicated that speed limiters provide significantly positive benefits.

Researchers found that when trucks without speed limiters were compared to those equipped with these devices, there was a decreased accident rate of around 50 percent. The price of implementing speed limiters is minimal, so if these were required, trucking companies would be able to install speed limiters in their fleets without much financial burden. This confirms that the cost of mandatory speed limiters would be far outweighed by the safety benefits to both the drivers and the general public.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) originally petitioned the FMCSA and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) about mandating speed limiters in trucks six years ago. Although many countries already require speed limiters in commercial vehicles, the NHTSA only began considering mandatory speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks last year. The ATA is also advocating a national speed limit of 65 miles per hour for all vehicles to further reduce crashes and increase road safety, but this has yet to be addressed by any U.S. agencies or lawmakers.

If you or your loved one was recently involved in a motor vehicle accident involving a commercial vehicle or truck, contact a local personal injury attorney immediately. An investigation may uncover whether the driver's speed or other negligent driving practices were an issue in the accident, which would make both the driver and trucking company liable for damages like medical expenses, lost wages and pain and suffering.

Source: Truck News, "New study confirms 'profound' safety benefits from speed limiters," 3/28/12.