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Will a mandatory speed limit for heavy commercial trucks become a reality?

Truck drivers are under a great deal of pressure to meet their deadlines and carry as much cargo as possible. Unfortunately, this combination of speed and heavy cargo can spell disaster in the event of a serious truck accident, particularly if a truck collides with a smaller passenger vehicle.

In light of the dangers posed by semis and other heavy-duty trucks, the federal government has enacted various regulations over the years - including hour restrictions for truck drivers and truckload capacity rules - to keep motorists safe.

In fact, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced in January that it was initiating the rulemaking process to determine whether electronic control modules (ECMs) should be installed on all heavy commercial trucks (i.e., those weighing over 26,000 pounds), limiting their speed to a maximum of 68 miles per hour.

For the uninitiated, an ECM is simply a computerized or mechanical device that prevents a vehicle from going beyond a certain speed.

In its published notice in the Federal Register, the NHTSA indicated that the proposed rulemaking won't officially begin until 2012, and may not result in any type of binding rule or regulation.

The rulemaking process was initiated by the American Trucking Associations (ATA) and Road Safe America.

The ATA asserts that the ECMs on heavy commercial trucks would not only keep motorists safer, but also slash fuel consumption and lead to improved environmental conditions.

Opponents of a proposed federal rule, including the Truckload Carriers Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA), argue that mandatory ECMs on heavy commercial trucks would actually make the highways more dangerous for motorists and increase the risk of truck accidents.

"All credible highway research shows that highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same speed," said OOIDA executive vice president Todd Spencer.

If you have been seriously injured due to the negligence of another or lost a loved one in a truck accident, you should strongly consider speaking with an experienced attorney who can answer your questions and explain your rights.

This post was provided for informational purposes only and is not to be construed as legal advice.

Stay tuned for further developments from our New York personal injury blog ...

Related Resources:

NHTSA eyes mandatory truck speed limit (The Journal of Commerce)

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