As any truck driver who has traveled on America’s many highways can tell you, a vehicle driving very slowly can be just as much of a hazard as one going above the speed limit.
When one vehicle is not traveling with the flow of traffic, other vehicles necessarily have to change lanes, change their speed, and go around the slower vehicle. And these moves are often caused by agitation and frustration with the slower vehicle holding up fast travel.
Unfortunately, in an effort to make roads safer, the FMCSA filed a Notice of Intent to mandate speed limiters – devices that can control the top speed of a vehicle – for commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more.
The problem, of course, is that if trucks are mandated to drive more slowly than the surrounding traffic, many drivers of four-wheelers will rapidly accelerate to get around the large slow-moving tractor-trailers that block the flow of movement. The rule will instead make roads more dangerous.
Such a rule by the FMCSA would essentially create an environment of interstate highways where trucks act as obstacles for faster-moving cars to weave around on their way to their destination. More accidents will inevitably ensure.
As with other FMCSA regulations, a public comment period was opened, which ended on July 18th. Over 15,000 comments were left for the agency, including many truck drivers decrying this move as a threat to the safety of public roads.
President of the Owner-Operator Independent Driver’s Association (OOIDA) Todd Spencer responded to the proposed regulation by elaborating, “Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles, which can lead to more crashes.”
This proposal on speed limiters also highlights the problems inherent in technology, such as automated vehicles. Only human drivers can make the split-second decisions required for safe driving when considering the surrounding traffic.