American Trucking Simulator is a mostly realistic computer game, but it allows for a lot of trucking fantasies that would never be obtainable in real life. One of our favorites is smashing on the accelerator while traveling downhill on the 80 from Truckee to Sacramento, hitting 102 miles per hour and almost doubling the speed limit.
While fun, this scenario should no doubt exist only in fiction. The United States House of Representatives believes it happens often, because it has introduced a bill that would require speed limiters on all vehicles weighing 26,001 pounds or more.
The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act (COLTSOSA) breaks typical congressional naming conventions of making the acronym a word related to the bill. It is named after Cullum Owings, a college student who met an untimely death as a tractor-trailer using cruise control did not have enough time to stop.
While details about COLTSOSA are sparse, a similar bill introduced into the Senate in 2019 set the hard limit to 65 miles per hour, no matter how hard the trucker pressed on the gas pedal. It is safe to say that the speed limiters required by COLTSOSA would be set to either 55, 60, or 65 miles per hour.
It is common sense that speeding is generally a bad idea, with the wear of vehicular components, decreased fuel efficiency, a greater chance of an accident, and greater damage were an accident to occur; but the debate is on whether or not truckers should have the ability to do so in the first place. This debate is not just within the halls of Congress but the trucking industry at large.
“Millions of motorists are within a few feet of 80,000-pound tractor trailer rigs each day, and there is no reason why that equipment should be driven at 75 or 80 or 85 mph,” said Steve Williams, co-founder and president of the Trucking Alliance. “This legislation will reduce the severity of large truck crashes and make the nation’s roadways safer for our drivers and all of us.”
In contrast, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that creating a speed differential between trucks and cars creates its own safety hazards, with differences in speed limits being up to 20 miles per hour.
While speeding is a bad idea, we are of the opinion that there are better ways to stop travesties as had happened with Cullum Ownings than a blanket speed limit cap. One such solution could be the requirement of a sensor that tracks how far ahead the nearest vehicle is up ahead, and either disengages the cruise control or applies the brakes as necessary.
Whether or not this bill passes the House and the Senate is yet to be seen, but because it was introduced in part by both a Republican and a Democrat, it has a better chance of passing the vote than a typical bill.
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