FMCSA grants request to extend speed limiter comment period

May 26, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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More than 12,000 individuals and organizations have already voiced their opinions about a proposal that would mandate the installation of speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles. Now, the public will have more time to weigh in on the controversial issue.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is scheduled to publish a notice on Friday, May 27, that extends the comment period for the speed limiter proposal by 45 days. The decision is in response to requests from the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the American Trucking Associations to provide the organizations and truck drivers more time to comment.

Earlier this month, FMCSA published an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking to mandate speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles. Commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and that are equipped with an electric engine control unit capable of being governed would be subject to the mandate. A speed had not been determined, but previous proposals floated the possibilities of 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour.

FMCSA set the comment period for 30 days, and it was set to expire on June 3. The extension gives the public through July 18 to provide feedback. 

On May 13, OOIDA told FMCSA that more time was needed to respond and asked for a 60-day extension to the comment period. ATA asked the agency for a 30-day extension.

“This is one of the most overreaching proposed rulemakings in decades as it relates to the safety of the traveling public, roadway efficiency and the livelihoods of our nation’s professional truck drivers,” OOIDA wrote.

“Our members are on the road and away from home up to 250 days or more each year. Considering what is at stake, as well as the amount of time and resources it will take to develop meaningful feedback, we believe FMCSA should grant a 60-day extension to file comments.”

ATA said it needed more time to provide the necessary data.

“The complexity of the issues presented in this notice constitutes good cause for allowing additional time to comment, to ensure that accurate data can be obtained from our members,” the ATA wrote.

“In addition, collection and submission of such information, by ATA and other commenters, is in the public interest because it will assist the agency in making informed safety decisions that will affect not only the motor carriers who operate under these regulations but also the public who share our nation’s roadways.”

As of the morning of Thursday, May 26, more than 12,100 comments had already been submitted to the docket.

A sampling of the comments points to an overwhelming majority of truck drivers in opposition to the mandate.

Many of the comments echo OOIDA’s concerns about the dangers of speed differentials and warnings that the proposal would lead to an increase in negative interactions between cars and heavy-duty trucks. In parts of the country, the speed limit is as much as 80 or 85 mph. A speed limiter mandate could create a speed differential of 25 mph or more compared to the flow of traffic.

“I am in disagreement of any speed limiting for only commercial motor vehicles,” C Hobbs Auto Logistics wrote. “If there would be speed limiting of all vehicles, CMVs and all of the general motoring public, I would be willing to support that … Studies obviously support greater fatalities with high speed, but studies have also shown that there are greater risks for collisions with differential speed limits.”

Many commenters point out that speed limiters would not prevent trucks from speeding in construction zones and other areas where the speed is 55 mph or lower. According to 2019 crash stats, 1,491 fatal crashes involving large trucks occurred in speed limits of 50 and 55 mph, compared to fewer than 900 in speed zones of 70 mph or faster.

Others have commented that a speed limiter mandate would force many experienced and safe drivers out of the industry and that truckers often need to accelerate to avoid a potential crash.

OOIDA encourages all truck drivers to submit comments on the speed limiter notice before the July 18 deadline. The Association has made the process easy through its Fighting for Truckers website. The public also can go to the Regulations.gov website and enter Docket No. FMCSA-2022-0004. LL

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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.