OOIDA Foundation outlines concerns over speed limiters

May 6, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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If you are wanting to comment on FMCSA’s speed limiter proposal but would like some statistics to back up your argument, the OOIDA Foundation has you covered.

The research arm of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has produced some easy-to-understand graphics explaining its argument against a speed limiter mandate.

FMCSA’s proposal about requiring speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles officially published in the Federal Register on May 4. Truck drivers and the general public have through June 3 to submit comments. OOIDA encourages all of its members to formally comment.

The rulemaking would propose that most interstate commercial motor vehicles be speed limited. 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.

OOIDA contends that a speed limiter mandate would do more harm than good.

The OOIDA Foundation’s graphic breaks down four reasons its research suggests that speed limiters will negatively affect safety.

1. Increased interactions

The OOIDA Foundation points to research that says the frequency of interactions with other vehicles increases 227% when traveling 10 mph below the speed of traffic.

Considering that the United States has highways with speed limits posted at 80 mph or more, a truck that is speed limited at 60 mph could easily be traveling 20-25 mph slower than the flow of traffic.

A study by University of Arkansas researchers in 2006 found that speed limit differentials compromise highway safety.

2. Mandate doesn’t stop speeding

Although a speed limiter mandate set at 60 mph would force trucks to drive well below the posted speed limit on most highways, it would not prevent them to speed through city traffic, construction zones or in inclement weather.

The OOIDA Foundation says research shows that forcing truckers to lose time during high-speed zones can encourage them to driver faster than they should through slower zones so that they can make their deliveries on time.

According to a Transportation Research Board’s survey of safety managers, 88% stated that their drivers travel faster than normal in lower speed zones to make up time.

“Rather than a speed limiter mandate to prevent speeding, carriers could modify the fundamental and structural problems that create incentives for speeding, such as compensation of drivers by mile and lack of pay for substantial amounts of time spent waiting to load and unload,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote. “Speeding is often a function of the economics of trucking. The perceived need to speed will be eliminated if carriers paid per hour or increase per mile compensation for compliant driving.”

3. Most fatal crashes occur in slower zones

OOIDA points to statistics from the FMCSA showing that 78% of fatal crashes involving large trucks occur in speed zones posted at 65 mph or below.

Statistics from 2012, 2013 and 2014 breaking down fatal crashes by speed limit show that most crashes occurred in zones of 50-55 mph.

4. Truck driver concerns

During a time when lawmakers continually point to concerns over driver retention and the supply chain, the FMCSA is considering a proposal that could drive many truckers out of the industry.

“When OOIDA members were asked to rank their concerns about speed limiters, the top two issues were lack of passing speed and increased congestion,” the OOIDA Foundation wrote. “Research has demonstrated that speed differential between trucks and other vehicles creates traffic congestion, thereby expanding safety concerns while also increasing the environmental footprint of large trucks.”

How to comment on the speed limiter mandate

The public comment period is open through Friday, June 3. Truck drivers are encouraged to comment through FightingforTruckers.com or by going to Regulations.gov and entering 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.