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Technology could force truck drivers to slow down

New York motorists share roads with many other vehicles, and everyone is expected to obey speed limits for the safety of all. Now the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration wants to use technology to force commercial vehicle drivers to obey speed limits by making it impossible for their vehicles to travel faster.

The proposal announced by the NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration would affect new vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds. It would make it impossible for a driver to go over a certain set speed. The top speed allowed by the vehicle might be 65 mph, for example, but the cap is currently being considered and could be lower or higher.

The proposal worries some truck drivers, who say that being forced to drive slower than other vehicles could be dangerous. The proposal is subject to public comment for 60 days before it can be finalized. Speed-limiting technology was first proposed in 2006 by Roadsafe America, a group founded by the parents of a student who was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer.

Most large trucks already have these types of devices installed, but many do not have actual limits set. The government safety agencies believe that the enactment of the proposed regulation could save up to $1 billion in annual fuel costs and cut down on the number of accidents.

More than 1,000 fatal truck accidents occur around the country every year. The surviving family members of a person killed in such an accident often face severe financial consequences, including funeral expenses and the need to replace the contributions to household expenses that the decedent had been making. If it can be determined that the accident was caused by a negligent truck driver, an attorney for the family could find it advisable to file a wrongful death lawsuit seeking compensation for these and other losses.

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