DRIVE Act speeds up while speed limiter proposal slows down?

April 29, 2024

Mark Schremmer


Rep. Dusty Johnson’s support for the DRIVE Act serves as the latest win for a bill that would prevent a speed limiter mandate on commercial vehicles.

Johnson, a Republican from South Dakota, became a co-sponsor of the DRIVE Act on Friday, April 26. HR3039 now has 42 co-sponsors. Meanwhile, it’s unclear when the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration will propose a mandate.

Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., introduced HR3039 last May, and Sen. Steve Daines, R-Mont., launched the Senate version of the DRIVE Act, S2671, last July. Both versions of the bill would prohibit the FMCSA from promulgating any rule or regulation mandating speed limiters.

The DRIVE Act is in response to FMCSA’s 2022 advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking that considered requiring most heavy-duty trucks to be equipped with speed governors.

Although hurdles remain to get the DRIVE Act passed into law, the increasing support for the bill shows the displeasure of a potential speed governor mandate in many segments of the United States. HR3039 now has co-sponsors in 22 states. Many of the states have large rural areas, such as South Dakota, Montana and Oklahoma.

“This overreach by the Biden administration has the potential to negatively impact all facets of the agricultural and trucking industries,” Brecheen said when the bill was introduced last year. “I know from experience driving a semi while hauling equipment and years spent hauling livestock that the flow of traffic set by state law is critical for safety, instead of an arbitrary one-size-fits-all speed limit imposed by some bureaucrat sitting at his desk in Washington, D.C. This rule will add one more needless burden, and Congress must stop it.”

What about FMCSA’s speed limiter proposal?

As mentioned, the agency kicked the tires regarding a possible mandate in 2022. FMCSA received more than 15,000 comments in response, with the majority coming from truck drivers who are opposed due to “dangerous speed differentials.”

Despite the opposition, the agency has maintained its plan to move forward with a formal proposal that includes a top speed. However, it keeps speeding past its target dates. FMCSA had planned to unveil its proposal first in June 2023 and then in December 2023. The next target date is in May, but the agency isn’t expected to meet that one either.

First, FMCSA still hasn’t submitted its proposal to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review. OMB reviews often take months. Additionally, a champion of the proposal – former FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson – resigned from her post earlier this year. It’s also possible that the agency doesn’t want to release a controversial proposal as the presidential election approaches.

OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh said the rumblings from a recent Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance meeting were that FMCSA will not publish a speed limiter proposal before the year is over.

“There probably won’t be any ruling or anything come out on speed limiters this year,” Pugh recently told Land Line Now. “That probably makes sense, because we don’t have an administrator, it’s an election year and we probably won’t get an administrator until next year … However, that doesn’t mean you don’t need to be reaching out to your lawmakers. Don’t let up – full throttle. This just buys us more time to get people on Capitol Hill behind the DRIVE Act so that we can get the DRIVE Act across the finish line.”

Support the DRIVE Act

OOIDA is encouraging its approximately 150,000 members to ask their lawmakers to support the DRIVE Act.

Truck drivers can contact their lawmakers through OOIDA’s Fighting For Truckers website. LL