Late last year, both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) came forward with a proposed rule that would require semi-trucks and big rigs to be equipped with a device that would regulate the maximum speed that the truck could travel while on the highway. At the time the rule was proposed, it was hoped that the Obama administration would approve the rule after the time for public comments had passed. Now that the Trump administration is in place, fears are rising that the common-sense rule will meet its demise before implementation.
The Need for Speed (Rules) for Trucks
It is no secret that commercial trucks like big rigs and semi-trucks can cause serious harm to the occupants of passenger vehicles in the event of a crash. The magnitude of harm caused by these large commercial trucks only increases the faster that the truck is traveling. That is to say, a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 65 miles per hour will inflict greater harm than a truck that crashes into a passenger car while traveling 55 miles per hour. Thus, the proposed rule – and the devices described in the proposed rule – could potentially decrease the incidence rate of serious and fatal truck crashes.
Determining the Speed of a Commercial Truck in a Crash
When a truck is involved in a crash with another vehicle – especially where there is evidence suggesting the truck driver was at fault and caused the crash – the speed of the truck at the moment of impact becomes extremely relevant to the investigation into the crash. A truck that is traveling above the posted speed limit (or even at a speed that is too great for the prevailing road, weather, and/or traffic conditions) can be found to be negligent or reckless, thereby supporting an injury victim’s claim for damages.
While the speed of a truck can be estimated from skid marks and other physical evidence found at the scene, one of the more reliable methods whereby the speed of the truck can be determined is to obtain the “control module” or “black box.” This is a recording device that is found either under the hood of the truck or (sometimes) within the cab itself. This module contains important information about the truck in the moments immediately before the crash: it can tell someone, for example, the speed of the truck for the critical few seconds before the crash and whether the brakes were activated at any time immediately before the collision (which could indicate whether the truck driver tried to avoid the collision.
The Assistance of an Attorney Can Prove Invaluable
Because there does not appear to be any speed-regulation device that will prohibit trucks from exceeding a particular speed, the actual speed of a truck involved in a collision will remain an elusive and relevant inquiry. An experienced truck crash lawyer will have the knowledge and resources needed to obtain the control module from the truck and/or employ other means to determine the speed of the truck and whether the truck driver is liable for any injuries caused to others.
Michael R. Lawless is a dedicated and skilled Kansas truck crash attorney. He is available to assist you and/or your loved ones recover compensation in the aftermath of a truck crash. Attorney Michael R. Lawless will fight hard on your behalf so that you can focus on your health and your family. Contact Kansas Truck Accident Lawyer Michael R. Lawless today by calling (800) 734-3771 and discussing the details of your injury accident with him.