In an appearance in Roslyn Heights on Thursday, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer demanded the Department of Transportation approve a rule that would require electronic speed limiting devices in large trucks and buses. Once installed and activated, the devices would prevent all vehicles over 26,000 pounds from exceeding a maximum speed.
“There’s nothing more harrowing than having a 12-wheeler behind you going fast,” Schumer said. “It’s a spooky feeling.”
Standing alongside the Long Island Expressway, he described the highway as particularly hazardous for drivers.
“The LIE is no stranger to big trucks,” he said.
In 2014, there were 3,903 people killed in accidents involving large trucks nationwide, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Of those deaths, 1,000 occurred in accidents involving a speeding truck. Eighteen people died in Long Island in 2014 as a result of accidents involving heavy vehicles.
Limiting the speed of heavy vehicles to 60 miles per hour would prevent 3,356 to 10,306 minor injuries and 63 to 314 deaths annually, according to the NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.
According to Harry Adler, program manager at the Truck Safety Coalition, the installation of speed limiters in heavy trucks in Ontario, Canada led to a 24 percent reduction in truck crash fatalities.
The two federal agencies proposed the pending rule back in August.
Schumer acknowledged that federal rule making of this kind can sometimes take years, but he urged the DOT to act as soon as possible in order to hasten the installation of the devices and the ensuing prevention of accidents.
Asked why the approval process takes so long, Schumer said “there’s lots of bureaucracy.”
Responding to concerns about the adverse impact the rule might have on the productivity and profitability of trucking, Schumer pointed to support from the American Trucking Association, an industry advocate.
The speed limiters have the capacity to record all data regarding their respective vehicle’s velocity, regardless of whether it exceeds the speed limit at a given time.
Though the speed limiters do not record such information automatically, individual truckers or their employers can opt for it to do so, Schumer said.
He said he’d have to “look more closely” at whether the recording of such data could threaten privacy or labor rights.
“There’s always a balance between privacy and security,” Schumer added.