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Battle line forming over anticipated truck speed limiter rule

Have you ever been driving down the highway and suddenly come across a chunk of tire tread across the road? You don’t know where it came from, but the size of it suggests it came off a tractor-trailer truck.

Imagine if you had been driving beside that truck when the failure occurred. It’s not small chunks of rubber flying at you. It’s a strand of steel belted rubber several feet long and ten inches wide. If your first move is to take evasive action, it could lead to you losing control and getting seriously hurt in an accident.

Maybe that flying debris was from a faulty retread. But it might also be that the tire failed because the driver of the big rig pushed the tire beyond its capabilities.

Many tire experts and safety advocates say most truck tires are not designed to handle being at speeds faster than 75 mph. But some states, including Texas, have stretches of highway that allow for speeds up of up to 85 mph.

The experts say that can lead to tire failure and the American Trucking Association cites federal data noting that excessive speed is a main cause in 18 percent of all the fatal accidents attributed to large trucks.

Because of that, the ATA is pushing federal regulators to require the installation of governors on all semitrailer trucks that will prevent them from going faster than 65 mph. And just in the past few weeks, the head of the federal Department of Transportation told Congress that such a proposal will be issued before the end of the year.

Not everyone is happy about that. The group representing independent truck owner-operators says the rule won’t improve safety. Indeed, it says all it will do is foster unsafe conditions due to increased road rage.

Whether that is true or not is not for us to say. What those experienced in dealing with truck accident cases know is that driver error is a significant problem and that accident victims are entitled to pursue due compensation when they suffer pain and injury.