ATLANTA — Road Safe America on October 25 released the results of a national survey showing that voters across the United States strongly support the required use of two existing safety technologies in large trucks — speed limiters and automatic emergency braking.
Against the backdrop of worsening trends in truck safety, it should come as no surprise that there is widespread support amongst the American public for these sensible solutions, according to Steve Owings, co-founder of Road Safe America.
He pointed to new crash data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration revealed that 4,761 people lost their lives in truck crashes on U.S. highways in 2017.
NHTSA data shows a 41 percent increase from an all-time low in 2009, an “unacceptable trend” given that technology tools are available to reduce truck crashes, he said.
“Americans overwhelmingly support these common-sense and data-driven truck safety technology measures to save lives and prevent injuries,” Owings said. “If use of speed limiters and automatic emergency brakes (AEB) had been required in 2002, my son Cullum who was killed by a speeding truck driver, might be alive today. We call on Congress to support the vast majority of Americans and act now to require the use of lifesaving, truck safety technologies.”
The survey, conducted by McLaughlin & Associates, of likely general election voters nationwide was conducted September 18-24, 2018, and has an accuracy of +/- 3.1%.
Results from the survey show:
- 79 percent of voters favor speed limiters set at a maximum speed of 65 mph for large trucks, 45 percent strongly favor it and only 13 percent oppose it.
- 82 percent of voters favor AEB, 50 percent strongly favor it and just 9 percent oppose it.
Speed limiter technology has existed for decades and is standard capability in all big rigs manufactured since 1992, yet its use in the United States is not required.
Under the Obama administration, after being petitioned by the American Trucking Associations and Road Safe America, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration jointly proposed a rule to require speed limiters on heavy trucks, issuing a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking on September 7, 2016.
The Trump administration has not advanced the rulemaking beyond the NPRM stage.
ATA and the Truckload Carriers Association are both known to support speed limiters.
However, ATA expressed displeasure with the NPRM because it did not specify any exact speed, rather it gave three possible options of where speed limiters should be set.
Road Safe America noted that many trucks on American highways have set their speed limiters voluntarily because it is profitable to do so, saving on fuel and maintenance costs for brakes and tires. The European Union, Japan, Australia and the Canadian provinces of Ontario and Quebec all require speed governors to be set on heavy commercial vehicles at speeds varying from 55 mph in Japan to 65 mph in Canada. This requirement has been in place for as long as 25 years in some countries and none of them has ever reversed the requirement.
A study by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration concluded that big-rigs not using their built-in speed governors were involved in high-speed collisions at twice the rate of trucks that were using them. In addition, a study released by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation found the highway crash rate of speeding trucks dropped by 73 percent after their heavy vehicle speed limiter rule took effect in Ontario and fatalities in all crashes involving big rigs dropped 24 percent in the same time frame.
Automatic emergency braking is proven collision avoidance technology. Despite years of study and successful use by leading motor carriers, this technology has yet to be required for commercial motor vehicles. NHTSA estimates that current generation AEB systems can prevent more than 2,500 crashes each year. NHTSA granted a petition in 2015 to initiate rulemaking that would require AEB in all trucks; but the agency has missed the deadline for a final report that was due in September 2018.
Road Safe America is dedicated to reducing the injuries and deaths resulting from collisions between tractor-trailer trucks and passenger vehicles. It is supported by private donations and have no financial ties to any part of the transportation industry.
The organization says it is not anti-truck or anti-trucker, but rather is pro-safety.
Owings and his wife, Susan, founded Road Safe America in 2003 after their son, Cullum, was killed when his car – stopped in an interstate traffic jam – was crushed from behind by a speeding tractor trailer that was determined to be going well above the posted speed limit on cruise control.
The Trucker News Staff produces engaging content for not only TheTrucker.com, but also The Trucker Newspaper, which has been serving the trucking industry for more than 30 years. With a focus on drivers, the Trucker News Staff aims to provide relevant, objective content pertaining to the trucking segment of the transportation industry. The Trucker News Staff is based in Little Rock, Arkansas.