NHTSA: Let’s control truck speed through electronic governors

Do you like scary rides?

Here’s an absolutely free one provided many millions of times each day to people across Southern California and the rest of the state: being a driver or passenger in a moderately sized car and having a 40-ton 18-wheel commercial truck whiz by you at 70 miles per hour.

Those things are big, indeed, and we know that all our readers readily appreciate the damage they can do when they are involved in accidents with other vehicles.

The occupants of those “other vehicles” invariably lose. In a best-case scenario, no lives are lost and property damage is minimal. Unfortunately, though, and in most instances, the consequences of a car-truck collision are flatly dire.

Safety regulators well appreciate, of course, the outsized dimensions and singular safety considerations inherent with vehicles like tractor trailers and other super-sized cargo carriers.

One specific concern that was recently expressed by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration relates to the dangerous nexus existing between high speed and tire blowouts.

In a nutshell: Evidence shows that the risks of a tire blowing out on a big rig correspond closely to the speed that the vehicle is being driven; the faster the rig is going, the higher the risk of a failing tire and resulting accident.

The NHTSA has a specific response to that problem that it is pushing as a national mandate affecting all commercial trucks, namely this: If the agency has its way, all such vehicles must soon have an electronic speed-limiting device installed that will top off their speed at 70 miles per hour.

Advocates will find that a salutary measure for every state, although the impact will likely be more acutely appreciated in some areas. California state law already has a 70-mph maximum (for rural freeways). Texas, on the other hand, allows truckers to travel as fast as 85 miles per hour in some areas.

Still, it is far from a secret that some truckers in California travel unlawfully fast. A speed governor would eliminate that behavior.

And, concomitantly, it would make driving on state roadways just a bit less exciting for many drivers of passenger vehicles, which is exactly the way they might logically want their driving experience to be.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, “Safety chief wants to cap big rig speeds to fix tire problem,” Meghan Barr and Tom Krisher (AP), April 9, 2015