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How to reduce truck crashes in Michigan by 73%?

We can take a page out of Ontario’s safety playbook and require speed-limiters in all trucks. Study shows Canadian province reduced truck crashes by 73% after its adoption

Truck crashes

Imagine a way to reduce by more than 70% all speed-related truck crashes in Michigan. It’s not wishful thinking. All we have to do is what our good friends and next door neighbors in Ontario, Canada, did:

Require all trucks in Michigan to have speed-limiters.

What Michigan can learn from Ontario, Canada’s speed limiter law

Driving at excessive speeds is one of the top causes of truck crashes. Speed-limiters (which limit the top speed that a truck can travel) results in fewer truck accidents.

For proof, all we have to do is look across the bridge or tunnel from Michigan. Speed-related truck crashes caused by at-fault truckers in Ontario dropped 73% after Ontario passed a law in 2009 requiring all trucks to have speed-limiters, according to a study by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation, as reported by HDT Truckinginfo.com in its June 27, 2017, article, “Report: Truck Speed Limiters Improve Highway Safety in Ontario.”

As a truck crash attorney, I’ve taken my share of depositions of truck drivers in Canada. A large number of commercial trucks travel from Canada into Michigan, or through Michigan. Although I haven’t seen research on the topic, it makes sense that Ontario truckers who continue to use speed-limiters here in Michigan would be involved in fewer truck crashes.

More importantly, it is something that Michigan can learn from.

The Canadian experience confirms what both myself and many other truck crash safety advocates have been preaching for years: slow down. In this case, we know that slowing down will save lives and reduce the number of truck accidents that would otherwise occur.

The news about a speed-limiter rule’s ability to reduce the number of truck accidents that occur can’t really be filed away as “shocking.” But it sure slammed the brakes on the doom and gloom predictions being made right now by speed-limiter critics — and in particular the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) — who have been lobbying against speed-limiters on trucks. OOIDA has been saying that requiring speed-limiters on trucks would create a dangerous speed differential with cars and other vehicles and, thus, cause more truck crashes, not less. The Canadian study results couldn’t have come at a better time.

A perfect storm is brewing in Michigan with higher truck speed limits

The Canadian study is also good timing for the perfect storm that is brewing here in Michigan.

Namely:

  • Fatal truck crashes in Michigan increased 14% between 2014 and 2015, which is consistent with national trends showing a spike in deadly truck accidents, fatalities and truck wrecks causing serious injury.
  • Trucks can drive faster on Michigan highways and freeways, now, “thanks” to a new law enacted earlier this year.

Hopefully, the findings of the Ontario study, coupled with the facts already known by the FMCSA, NHTSA and the U.S. DOT, will prompt Michigan and U.S. lawmakers to put the pedal to the metal and enact long-overdue speed-limiter rules for truck drivers on this side of the Ambassador Bridge.

Is there other evidence that truck speed limiter devices will result in fewer truck crashes?

The Ontario speed-limiter study is totally in line with the 2016 findings from the Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA)’s proposed “speed limiting device” rule regarding the effect on fatalities and serious injuries if a speed-limiter law were enacted in the U.S. (pages 78-79):

  • “[W]e estimate that limiting heavy vehicles to 68 mph would save 27 to 96 lives annually, limiting heavy vehicles to 65 mph would save 63 to 214 lives annually, and limiting heavy vehicles to 60 mph would save 162 to 498 lives annually.”
  • Using speed-limiters to limit trucks to a “maximum set speed of 60 mph” “would prevent 179 to 551 serious injuries and 3,356 to 10,306 minor injuries …”
  • Using speed-limiters to limit trucks to a “maximum set speed of 65 mph” would prevent “70 to 236 serious injuries and 1,299 to 4,535 minor injuries …”
  • Using speed-limiters to limit trucks to a “maximum set speed of 68 mph” would prevent “30 to 106 serious injuries and 560 to 1,987 minor injuries …”

Similarly, in a March 28, 2012, blog post entitled “FMCSA study finds ‘profound safety benefit’ to speed limiter use,” Fleet Owner reported that an FMCSA study concluded the following about truck drivers’ use of speed-limiters:

“‘Results from multiple analyses indicated a profound safety benefit for trucks equipped with an active speed limiter …’ The findings showed ‘strong positive benefits for speed governors.’ Results indicated that trucks equipped with speed limiters [SLs] had a ‘significantly lower SL-relevant crash rate (approximately 50%) compared to trucks without SLs …’”

This entry was tagged Tags: speed limit for trucks in Michigan, truck accidents
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