Speeding Trucks

Every driver must be conscientious about abiding the speed limits of each road. But it goes even further: Motorists have a responsibility to tailor their speed according to road conditions. This is especially true for large truck drivers, responsible to safely control their rigs which can weigh 10,000 pounds or more. Nearly one-third of all traffic deaths can be attributed to speeding, and 14 percent of crashes with injuries involved a speeding driver. The faster a vehicle goes, the higher its chances of a crash and the more serious the injuries involved.

Atlanta truck accident attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert understands the cost of speed-related crashes is estimated at $52 billion annually, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Unfortunately, far too many trucking companies put profits ahead of safety, putting intense pressure on drivers to operate their vehicles at unsafe speeds to make on-time deliveries (and in turn more money for the trucking companies).

In Georgia, both cars and trucks are required to follow the same speed limits, which is 70 mph on rural interstates, 55 mph on urban interstates and 65 mph on limited access roads, unless otherwise specified by local authorities per O.C.G.A. 40-6-183.

Truckers who speed not only violate the law, they breach their duty of care to other drivers and road users. The failure to use reasonable care in operating a vehicle – which means abiding all applicable traffic laws – is a form of negligence. When that negligence results in injury or death to someone else, those responsible can be required to pay. Trucking companies can be held vicariously liable for these crashes via the doctrine of respondeat superior, which is Latin for, “Let the master answer.” You can find more on this in O.C.G.A. 51-2-2, which explains liability for torts of spouses, children and employees under certain circumstances.

If you are injured in a Georgia trucking accident, we look forward to answering your questions and helping you determine the best course of action for recovering damages.

Impact of Speeding Trucks

Driving too fast for conditions is a major cause of injurious and fatal crashes. This means all drivers – but truckers especially – must take great care include adjust one’s speed according to driving conditions.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety reports that while most drivers exceed posted speed limits at some point, the danger is the most pronounced on expressways and freeways. This is where researchers say 72 percent of free-flow traffic exceeded posted speeds.

FMCSA, in looking at the causes of truck accidents in Atlanta and beyond, noted that the trucker “traveling too fast for conditions” was the No. 2 cause of big rig crashes, accounting for 23 percent of the total number of crashes. That’s about 32,000 truckers who were reportedly driving too fast for conditions resulting in crashes in a single year. This included both single-vehicle crashes and collisions involving passenger vehicles.

Some traffic safety experts have opined trucks should be required to travel at slower speeds because large trucks need a much longer distance than cars to stop. Reduced speeds for trucks, the theory is, would make the stopping distance of large trucks akin to those of lighter vehicles. Reduced speeds of trucks would also give passenger vehicles the opportunity to pass trucks more easily. Finally, some argue that lower truck speed limits would reflect what is already the natural differential between cars and trucks on the expressway. This approach has been tried in the past with some success. For example, a 1991 study found that reducing speed limits on 65 mph highways proportionately reduced the number of trucks traveling over 70 mph without creating a wide variation among vehicle speeds – which is also a known cause of crashes. States with uniform speed limits (like Georgia) had twice as many large trucks traveling over 70 mph as those that reduced truck speed limits to 55 mph in typical 65 mph zones.

In 2016, the U.S. Department of Transportation recommended imposing a requirement on trucking companies to install so-called “speed limiters” on all newly-manufactured large trucks, buses and passenger vehicles over 26,000 pounds that would cap speeds at somewhere between 60 and 68 mph. USDOT leaders opined the move would save hundreds of lives a year and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year. However, the measure was halted by the incoming administration in 2017.

The National Research Council has concluded that 4,000 fewer people died on our roads from 1973 to 1974 when all states adopted a standard 55 mph maximum speed limit. When Congress decided to increase the speed limits on rural interstates to 65 mph, it increased the death toll by about 500. In 1995, the national speed limit was repealed and nearly two dozen states – including Georgia – increased their maximum speed limits of 70 mph. A handful of others have limits that are even higher.

Truck drivers may be especially prone to speeding because they are often under intense pressure from employers/ carriers to make deliveries on tight deadlines.

If you are involved in a crash with a speeding truck, our truck accident attorneys in Atlanta can review your legal options with you.

If you have been injured in a Georgia truck accident, contact Atlanta Truck Accident Attorney Stephen M. Ozcomert at (404)-370-1000.

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