Can you name that quote? It was the foul-mouthed and very funny Jackie Gleason as Sheriff Buford T. Justice in Smokey and the Bandit. If for some reason you are unaware of this iconic movie also featuring Burt Reynolds, Sally Field and Jerry Reed, the basic story line is that Jerry Reeds’ character, Cledus “Snowman” Snow is a tractor-trailer driver and he is trying to get a load delivered in record time. Burt Reynolds, the Bandit, has the job of diverting attention from the speeding Snowman and his illegal Coors beer cargo. By luring Sheriff Buford T. Justice and other police to chase him in his Pontiac Trans Am, Bandit permits the Snowman to speed down the highway without the interference of any Smokies.
Recently, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced a proposed rule that would put the kabash on Smokey and the Bandit on our nation’s highway and interstates. Specifically, the federal agency is proposing that vehicles weighing more than 26,000 lbs would be required to have a device that would electronically limit their speed. The proposal seeks to set the cap at 60, 65 or 68 mph — the industry and agency are still debating which of these is the appropriate cap.
There are number of reasons for the rule. By capping speeds, fatal and serious injury crashes will be reduced. Each year, there are roughly 1,115 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks. And even more injury crashes. By capping the speed at at 60 mph, as many as 498 lives per year could be saved. At 65 mph, 214 lives would be spared and at 68 mph 96 lives could be spared.
Of course, speed reduces reaction time and increases stopping distance both of which contribute to accidents. But, speed also affects tire performance. The majority of tractor-trailer tires are not designed for speeds above 75 mph. Yet, 14 states have speeds that are equal to or greater than the tire’s capacity. By electronically capping speeds, the NTHSA believes it will reduce tire blow outs, which often cause accidents.
Unfortunately, the proposed rule may not apply to vehicles already on the roadways as the industry is balking at the cost of retrofitting older vehicles which could run anywhere from $100 to $2000 depending upon the age of the vehicle. But, it will definitely apply to new vehicles.
If this rule goes through, score one for Buford T. Justice. And, if you or a loved one has been injured in a tractor-trailer accident, give us a call. One of our award-winning lawyers will be happy to talk to you about your case. We will answer your questions and advise you of your legal rights for absolutely free. If we think we can help you and you hire us, we will handle your truck case on a contingency basis, which means we only get paid if we recover money for you. Call us today at 615-742-4880 (Nashville) or 615-867-9900 (Murfreesboro) or 866-812-8787 (toll-free). We have recovered millions of dollars for our clients and we would like to help you too. But, do not delay. The law only allows you a limited time to pursue your case.