Group Pushes for 68 mph Speed Limiters on Big Rigs

Citing a new study declaring that thousands of drivers of highway big rigs have health problems that impair driving ability, the non-profit group Road Safe America is urging the federal government to adopt regulations requiring speed governors on buses and big trucks to be set at 68 mph. According RSA, the regulation requiring speed limiters on such rigs has been pending at the U.S. Department of Transportation for almost two years without action, while almost 5,000 people a year die in traffic accidents involving heavy trucks.

RSA says the study shows that tractor-trailer and bus drivers in the United States have suffered seizures, heart attacks, or unconscious spells behind the wheel, leading to deadly crashes on highways. In a press release, the group adds that "hundreds of thousands of drivers carry commercial licenses even though they also qualify for full federal disability payments, according to a new U.S. safety study obtained by the Associated Press."

RSA founder Stephen C. Owings says the study "is further evidence of the need to have special regulations requiring activation of speed governors set at 68 mph on the largest machines operating on our national roadways. Heavy trucks already come equipped with the speed limiting device, so activating them would be an easy, cost-effective step that would immediately begin to save lives. In light of the death toll, we don't understand why this hasn't already been done." He adds that because such speed-limiting governors already are required "to be set well below 68 mph" on rigs in the European Union, Japan, Australia, and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec, "the U.S. is behind the rest of the world" in passing the initiative.

Speed limiting devices have been standard equipment on U.S. tractor trucks since the early 1990s, and many companies and independent truckers use them, but there is no national requirement for all trucks to activate their speed governors. RSA has a petition pending before DOT to have speed governor activation required on all Class 7 and 8 trucks (over 13 tons in weight) at 68 mph or slower. The group says it is being supported in the initiative by "national safety advocacy organizations, the American Trucking Associations, numerous citizens, trucking companies and business executives."

The RSA press release notes that Owings and his wife Susan founded RSA after their son, Cullum, was killed in 2002 when their car--stopped in an interstate traffic jam--was crushed from behind by a speeding tractor trailer truck on cruise control. "We hope that citizens will contact their representatives in Washington and demand that the Transportation Department take positive action on this common sense rule immediately," Owings says in the release. "In addition to improving safety, we will reduce our nation's fuel consumption and the resulting green house gas emissions by enacting this regulation."

For more information, visit www.roadsafeamerica.org.

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