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Are Speed Limiters Available for 18-Wheelers?

Making roadways safer for the driving public is undoubtedly an essential and worthwhile objective. However, achieving this goal is not always straightforward. First, dangers that need to be addressed must be identified. Some things are apparent, while others require research and statistics.

Next, the manner in which a particular danger will be addressed must be determined. Will the solution be based on technology, regulation, or both? For example, a state may address drunk driving or distracted driving by passing laws that set lower alcohol limits or requiring hands-free mobile phones, respectively. On the other hand, a jurisdiction may deal with intersection crashes by placing red light cameras at chosen intersections.

Finally, there is often a political component. Members of society, particular professions, trade groups, and other organizations may have strong opinions about specific enforcement mechanisms. For example, many people abhor the idea of a red-light camera, resulting in a citation when no police officer was present. Mothers Against Drunk Driving have strong opinions on enforcement procedures. Trade groups, trucking companies, and various industries have views on ideas that will affect the flow of interstate commerce. 

With that background, we will discuss whether speed limiters are available for semi-trucks and, if so, the issues concerning the possible implementation of their use.

18-Wheelers in Oregon 

Semi-trucks are as present in the state of Oregon as they are anywhere else in the United States. Naturally, the state has its own rules and regulations for truck safety. While it follows general Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration Regulations regarding who can drive a semi-truck, how long they can drive for, and where they can operate, it also has OAR 740-100-0010. This law lays out special exceptions to be applied to Oregon interstates. However, it does not mention speed limiters in any capacity. 

What Is a Speed Limiter on an 18-Wheeler?

Speed limiters are devices, sometimes called “governors,” that can limit a truck’s top speed. This technology is available and is used by some trucking companies. However, there is currently no legal requirement to use speed limiters, and even if they are used, no government-mandated speed must be employed. Proponents argue that trucks driving at high speeds increases danger and that these devices would help save lives by slowing trucks down.

Brief History of the Speed Limiter Debate

The debate on whether speed limiters should be used is familiar. According to the publication Land Line, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued a report on the topic as far back as 1991. Governing, which publishes articles about public agencies, reports that in 1995, the National Transportation Safety Board recommended using speed limiters on big trucks and still does.

The Current Status of Speed Limiter Requirements

In September 2023, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced that it would develop a rule requiring certain trucks to use speed limiters to cap speeds to 68 miles per hour. The rule would apply to trucks that weigh in excess of 26,000 pounds. However, FMCSA subsequently issued a supplemental notice removing the 68-mile-per-hour limitation and stating that the speed could be determined later.

Interestingly, even trucking groups are on different pages. Some believe that speed limiters are prudent. Others complain that they can make driving more dangerous when trucks cannot move at the same speed as the vehicles around them. One driver opined that having slow-moving trucks is like an obstacle course for more expedient passenger vehicles to navigate. Additionally, some legislators contend that this rulemaking interferes with states’ rights.

Call with Questions

If you have been injured in a crash with a tractor-trailer truck, you will almost certainly have questions about your rights and how to proceed. Accidents involving big trucks are often more complicated to litigate than accidents involving only passenger cars. The experienced truck accident lawyers at Nelson MacNeil Rayfield are familiar with trucking laws and know how to handle the insurance companies and the many hoops you may be asked to jump through in this type of case. We will happily answer all your questions in a free consultation.