OOIDA to senators: Speed limiter amendment would ‘fail to improve safety’

July 11, 2019

Greg Grisolano


A proposal to mandate speed limiters in commercial vehicles would not only fail to improve safety, but “would lead to more crashes involving commercial vehicles.” That’s the position the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association took in a recent letter to a pair of U.S. senators who have introduced a proposal to mandate speed limiters in commercial vehicles.

Sens. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Mich., introduced legislation in June that would mandate vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds be restricted to a top speed of 65 miles per hour.

The proposal also would establish that all large trucks manufactured after the effective date be equipped with speed-limiting technology. And within six months of enactment, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation must “establish standards and rules to ensure that the speed-limiting technology on large trucks is accurate and that the trucks adhere to a maximum speed no faster than 65 mph.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long opposed any effort to mandate speed-limiting devices on commercial trucks, citing research that risks posed by increasing vehicle interactions via speed differentials outweigh any purported safety benefit of slowing down large trucks and buses.

“By establishing a one-size-fits-all federal mandate limiting (commercial motor vehicles) to 65 mph, your legislation would create dangerous speed differentials between CMVs and other vehicles,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer wrote in a letter sent to the pair on July 11. “Decades of highway research shows greater speed differentials increase interactions between truck drivers and other road users. Studies have consistently demonstrated that increasing interactions between vehicles directly increases the likelihood of crashes.”

Isakson and Coons’ proposal has garnered the support of several safety groups, as well as the Trucking Alliance, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Truck Safety Coalition.

In addition to the concerns over increasing vehicle interactions via speed differentials, Spencer’s letter also highlighted concerns that speed limiters would “increase pressure and stress on professional drivers to complete their work,” noting that some OOIDA members who have driven speed-limited trucks report feeling pressure to drive faster on roads where they prefer to drive slower in order to keep their schedules.

“Truckers required to operate below the posted speed limit are forced to drive maximum hours to cover the same distance, which increases their fatigue and places even greater stress on them to comply with burdensome hours-of-service regulations,” he wrote.