Photo (c) Gunter Nezhoda - Fotolia

Speed limits are one thing; speed limiters are something else -- and it's speed limiters that U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx would like to see on heavy trucks.

Foxx thinks big trucks should be equipped with devices that would physically restrain them from going faster than a predetermined speed.

“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking ,” Foxx said. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.” 

Foxx said capping truck speeds would reduce the 1,115 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks that occur each year and save $1 billion in fuel costs.

"Basic physics"

The proposal Foxx and colleagues unveiled Friday discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour. It would apply to trucks, buses, and other vehicles with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

“This is basic physics,” said Mark Rosekind, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

The rule would apply to new trucks, not the ones currently on the road, because of the difficulty and expense involved in retrofitting existing trucks.

Roadsafe America

The proposal has been floating around various agencies and departments since 2006, when the nonprofit group Roadsafe America filed a petition requesting it. The American Trucking Association later endorsed the plan.  

The proposal is now open for comments from citizens. You can submit your comment here.

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