11.23.16

SCHUMER: I-84 IS NO STRANGER TO SPEEDING TRUCKS, BUT NEW TECHNOLOGY, READY FOR INSTALLATION, COULD MAKE BARRELING BIG RIGS A THING OF THE PAST; SENATOR SAYS PUTNAM COUNTY DRIVERS WOULD BE SAFER & THOUSANDS OF ACCIDENTS COULD BE PREVENTED AND LIVES SAVED

I-84 Speed Limit Is 65 MPH But Any Putnam County Resident Can Tell You That Big Rigs, Even Large Buses, Can Give It The Gas & Exceed The Limit, Putting Everyday Drivers At Risk For Accidents—Or Worse 

Ready-To-Go Technology That Caps Big Rig Speed Has Wide Support But Requires Feds To Approve Across-The-Board Installation; Most Bus & Truck Drivers Operate Safely, But Speed Limiters Can Help Prevent The Handful of Dangerous Actors From Inflicting High-Speed Damage 

 Schumer: Capping Big Rig Speed – On The I-84 and Elsewhere – Should Get Green Light 

Following several tractor-trailer accidents on I-84, including one in Putnam County just this past spring, U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today called on the U.S. Department of Transportation (USDOT) to swiftly finalize a proposed rule that would require electronic speeding devices in large trucks, buses and school buses over 26,000 pounds. Schumer said that, in August, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed installing large commercial trucks with electronic devices that limit their speeds on roadways, and requiring the devices to be set to a maximum speed. Schumer said that while the federal rule-making process can sometimes take years, this rule should be finalized as quickly as possible so that installation of the systems can begin quickly.

“For every Hudson Valley driver or commuter who has been next to or in the crosshairs of a speeding big rig, a technology like this can’t come fast enough,” said U.S. Senator Charles Schumer. “Trucks, and large buses that barrel down our roads unsafely put everyone in danger, but now that we have a sensible technology that can make extreme truck and bus speeds a thing of the past, we must push the feds to accelerate its swift adoption. Capping speed in a safe and reasonable way will make everyday Putnam County drivers safer.”

According to the American Trucking Associations (ATA), approximately 70 percent of trucking companies already use electronic limiters. However, the ones not equipped with this potentially life-saving technology can barrel down roadways and cause accidents with grave consequences. That’s why Schumer is urging the USDOT to swiftly finalize a proposed rule that would require electronic speeding devices in all large trucks and buses over 26,000 pounds. Schumer highlighted that while most trucks and large vehicles are operated safely, technology like speed-limiters, when used correctly can help crack down on the few bad actors who are putting lives in danger. 

Schumer said that adopting this proposal could help reduce the more than 1,000 fatalities involving heavy vehicles and speed every year. According to NHTSA, in 2014, there were 3,903 people killed and 111,000 people injured in crashes involving large trucks nationwide. Of the people killed in large truck crashes, 83 percent were occupants of other vehicles or pedestrians. According to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, since 2009, there has been a 15 percent increase in fatalities and a 50 percent rise in the number of injuries in large-truck crashes.

According to the ATA, speed is a contributor to roughly 29 percent of all fatal crashes. And, driving too fast for conditions or over the posted speed limit was the primary reason for 18 percent of all fatal crashes where a large truck was deemed at fault. According to both NHTSA and FMCSA, even a small increase in speed among large trucks will have large effects on the force impact in a crash, and that’s why, Schumer said, this proposal is so important.

According to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles, in 2014, there were 10,742 police-reported large truck crashes in the state of New York. Of these crashes, 990 were related to unsafe speed. According to NHTSA, there were 126 truck-related fatalities in New York State in 2015, up from 98 fatalities in 2014. In the Hudson Valley region, there were 18 fatalities in 2015, double the number of fatalities in 2014 (nine).

Schumer said these Hudson Valley numbers show that, if this rule is not finalized soon, the number of fatalities and serious accidents involving large trucks could grow. Schumer today stood at the towing company where many totaled cars from I-84 crashes end up. Just this past April, there was a serious accident between two tractor trailers that closed sections of I-684 for more than four hours. Schumer said these kinds of serious accidents and close-calls could be prevented with this critical speed-limiting technology.

According to estimates in the proposed rulemaking, limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 60 miles per hour would save an estimated 162 to 498 lives annually; limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 65 miles per hour would save 63 to 214 lives annually; and limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 68 miles per hour would save 27 to 96 lives annually. The FMCSA proposal would also prevent an estimated 179 to 551 serious injuries and 3,356 to 10,306 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 60 miles per hour; 70 to 236 serious injuries and 1,299 to 4,535 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 65 miles per hour; and 30 to 106 serious injuries and 560 to 1,987 minor injuries with a maximum set speed of 68 miles per hour.

Schumer today urged the USDOT to quickly approve this rule so that electronic speed limiters would be installed in trucks as soon as possible. Schumer said the rule should be finalized in a way that also ensures the continued safety of truck drivers by allowing them to safely accelerate and merge. Schumer said that the benefits of this proposal are two-fold: requiring electronic speeding devices in trucks would not only help save lives and prevent injuries, but also positively impact the environment. According to NHTSA and FMCSA, requiring speed limiting devices could result in fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions totaling $850 million annually.

Schumer was joined by Putnam County Executive Mary Ellen O’Dell; Putnam County Sheriff Don Smith; and Director of Public and Government Affairs for AAA Northeast John Corlett.

“Enacting mandatory speed-limiting devices for heavy vehicles in the mid-Hudson Valley is a practical safety measure,” said Putnam County Executive MaryEllen Odell. “With 7 out of 10 trucking companies already implementing these devices, it makes sense to put this legislation in place.”

A copy of Schumer’s letter to FMCSA Administrator Darling and NHTSA Administrator Rosekind appears below:

Dear Administrator Darling and Administrator Rosekind:

I write to you today to both applaud your efforts to commence a rulemaking on truck speed limiters and urge you to finalize this rule as quickly as possible. As you know, truck speed limiters, if implemented safely, have the potential to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of crashes. While most truck drivers and other heavy vehicle operators operate safely, truck speed limiters can help prevent the handful of dangerous actors from inflicting high-speed damage on our roadways.

I appreciate the need to have a careful and thorough rulemaking process, but feel strongly that your agencies should do everything they can to move through this process and finalize this common sense rule as quickly as possible. I’d also urge your agencies to work closely with truck drivers to ensure that the rule is implemented in a way that still allows them to safely merge and operate their vehicles.

Throughout New York State we have had a long-history with high-speed truck related crashes. In 2014 alone, there were 10,742 policed-reported large truck crashes, 74 of which were fatal and 990 of which were related to unsafe speed. While truck speed limiters will not prevent all crashes, they will certainly significantly reduce both the number and severity of these accidents. It’s for these reasons that I urge your agencies to move swiftly to finalize this rule.

Thank you for your consideration, should you need further information please do not hesitate to contact my office.

Sincerely,

U.S. Senator Charles Schumer

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