In 2020, 4,842 commercial trucks were involved in accidents resulting in fatalities. One of the most common reasons for an accident is speeding. This could be the truck traveling faster than the posted speed limit or faster than the road conditions allow.
As a truck driver operating a large vehicle on Florida highways, you need to know what is a safe speed.
Florida Speed Limit Laws
Any vehicle, commercial or not that operates on Florida highways must follow the Florida speed statutes. In the state of Florida, the speed limit will never be more than 70 miles per hour. You will see this maximum speed limit on Florida highways and major toll roads.
However, not all areas of all highways and tolls are 70 miles per hour. Always look for a sign when entering the road to ensure you know the applicable speed limit.
Minimum Speed Law
There is also a minimum speed limit of 40 miles per hour. Traveling too slowly is just as dangerous as going too fast when driving on highways. Often, it isn’t the truck driver but a passenger vehicle traveling too slowly that causes a highway accident.
You won’t see specific commercial truck speed limits because all vehicles must follow the same speed laws. Truck drivers involved in accidents can speak with a truck accident lawyer. This helps them understand their rights and responsibilities.
Reasons a Commercial Truck Should Slow Down
Just because the speed limit states 70 miles per hour does not mean that a truck driver should always travel at that speed. The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recommends that drivers reduce their speed in certain circumstances.
- Traffic conditions
- Construction zones
- Conditions of low visibility
- Uneven roads or gravel roads
- Road conditions and road hazards, including debris
- Vehicle mechanical issues or failure
- On and off-highway exits ramps
- Curves, road bends, and sharp turns
- Hills and inclines
- Unfamiliar roads
If heavy traffic is on the highway, you may be unable to drive at the speed you want. The other traffic will dictate how fast you can travel. Despite multiple lanes, traffic can become heavy and block a truck’s ability to navigate the road.
Road conditions can also create a temporary hazard that requires traffic to reduce its speed. For example, construction, an accident, or debris on the road. These are all conditions that can be unpredictable but present a hazard.
Types of Accidents Caused by Speed
When traveling too fast, you reduce the time available for a response. Humans can only react so quickly, and this action time becomes longer when tired or distracted. Accidents can happen simply because you cannot act quickly enough for the speed traveled.
Faster speeds come with additional heat. The faster the speed traveled, the more friction that gets created, and the more heat generated.
This increased heat puts more wear and tear on the truck. Engine failure or a tire blowout from the additional heat can cause an accident.
Loss of Control
High speeds make it more difficult to control a truck. Large commercial vehicles weigh tens of thousands of pounds. This is a lot of weight to control.
Combine that weight with forwarding motion, and you get a physical force that has more momentum than you can handle. Should you need to turn or stop quickly, the trailer will continue moving forward.
This could cause a rollover, jackknife, skidding, or swaying. All of these are extremely dangerous and can cause accidents.
Driving in Bad Weather
When the weather becomes bad, drivers should reduce their speed. This applies to commercial trucks just as it does to passenger cars. When visibility gets reduced, it becomes harder for a driver to see the road ahead.
This reduces reaction time and increases the risk of an accident. Florida also experiences high amounts of rain. Rainwater on the road mixes with the oil dropped by vehicles. The mixture creates a slick surface that reduces the traction of the rubber tires.
When there’s limited traction, stopping times increase. Drivers should reduce their speed to compensate for this. Otherwise, they risk getting into an accident because they didn’t have complete control of the truck at the speed they are traveling.
Even if the weather is clear, driving at night presents unique risks that require you to slow down. First, less light makes it harder to see the road ahead and reduces your available reaction time.
Second, headlights from oncoming traffic make it harder to see the road. Third, the night is when many wild animals become active. Should a large animal venture onto the highway, it can create a risk of an accident.
Driving late at night can also make drivers more drowsy and less alert than they would be during the day. This slows their response time and increases the risk of an accident.
Commercial Truck Speed Limiters
In order to ensure safe travel, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced earlier this year its intent to move forward with rules enforcing speed limiters on heavy commercial trucks. The goal would be to enforce speed limit laws by not allowing large trucks to travel over a predetermined speed.
Hold Commercial Trucks Accountable
Just like passenger vehicles, commercial trucks can cause accidents. However, if speed is the reason for the accident, the damage and injuries can become significantly greater. As a truck driver, knowing your rights and protecting yourself from accident claims is important.
Speaking with an experienced personal injury lawyer can help you understand your rights. They may also be able to secure compensation for your loss.
Schedule a free consultation to speak with a knowledgeable lawyer about your accident and possible claims.