As early as October of this year, some big rig drivers may need to use speed limiters to regulate the top speeds of their vehicles. The Department of Transportation is in the process of proposing a regulation that will require the use of these limiters on trucks that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. It will also affect those traveling on roads with speed limits set at 55 mph or higher. If it is passed, the new rule will be enforced by the DOT and the federal government. What is a Speed Limiter? Speed limiters, also named speed governors, essentially control the speed of a vehicle via electronic sensors. Once a predetermined top speed is reached, the governor restricts the fuel and air supplies to the engine. The DOT has not specified what the top speed for 18 wheelers should be, but past proposals have requested a 68 mph limit. This lower speed is meant to reduce the stopping distance that is required by heavier trucks. A number of fleet owners already have limiters placed on their heavier trucks, but the DOT argues that it should be a uniform practice for all trucking companies. Which tractor-trailers will be required to utilize the speed limiters is still in question. The American Truckers Association has requested that all new trucks use limiters, while certain vehicle safety groups want any big rig manufactured in 1990 and beyond to be fit with a device. What are the Possible Benefits? Supporters of the Department of Transportation's proposal believe that speed governors could potentially eliminate more than 1,000 fatal collisions each year on major U.S. highways. Various statistics state that the number of 18 wheeler accidents continues to increase, and that fatalities are widespread with this type of vehicle. This may be because the crashes often involve smaller vehicles and occur on high-speed roadways. Proponents also believe that equipping larger trucks with speed limiters would somewhat address the issue of reckless driving. Whenever a truck accident attorney in Houston gets involved in a collision case, the question of negligence is bound to come up. Setting a top speed for truckers may prevent them from operating their rigs carelessly, particularly when it comes to traveling in hazardous or unstable conditions. What are the Potential Disadvantages? Some safety advocates are opposed to this impending mandate. Challengers argue that variances in vehicle speeds are to blame for freeway accidents and not the actual rate a truck is traveling. Additionally, many people believe accidents that are serious enough to require the assistance of a personal injury attorney are often the result of road rage, and a restriction on how fast 18 wheelers can travel might exacerbate this issue. Another safety issue is that speed limiters may prompt truck drivers to travel faster in low-speed zones in order to make up for lost time. Even with a limitation on how fast the vehicle can go, a trucker can slip into a moderately crowded 45 mph lane and climb up to 60 or 65 mph. Drivers of the big rigs have their own concerns, including the fact that a regulated speed means less miles driven and less money earned. The proposal is still in its initial stages, and the Secretary of Transportation has to approve it before it can be passed to the Office of Management and Budget at the White House. If it is cleared there, in October it may be posted as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking. Enforcement of the new ruling may not occur for several months after that. Regardless of the outcome, this proposal may alter highway traffic safety permanently.