Regulatory agenda includes rulemakings for underride guards, speed limiters

June 23, 2022

Mark Schremmer


The administration’s spring 2022 regulatory agenda features some controversial rulemakings, including side underride guards and speed limiters.

In total, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have dozens of rules making their way through the regulatory process.

Projected to be released as an advance notice of proposed rulemaking in July, NHTSA is expected to consider requirements for side underride guards on trailers and semitrailers to mitigate underride crashes into the side of these vehicles.

The rulemaking would respond to a 2013 petition from the Truck Safety Coalition. In addition, it would aim to fulfill the 2021 infrastructure law’s requirements to conduct research on side underride guards to assess their effectiveness, feasibility, costs and benefits.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association remains opposed to any requirements for underride guards on the sides or front of tractor-trailers.

In comments regarding underride mandates in 2021, OOIDA called the measures costly and impractical.

“OOIDA opposes efforts that would mandate the installation of front and side underride guards on all (commercial motor vehicles) and trailers exceeding 10,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight,” the Association wrote. “Over the last several years, NHTSA has considered numerous options involving side underride guards but has consistently concluded federal mandates would be impractical and costly, thus outweighing any perceived safety benefits. Any proposals to mandate side underrides disregards this reality and ignores the safety, economic, and operational concerns that have been raised by industry stakeholders.”

Speed limiters

Another item on the regulatory agenda receiving considerable opposition from truckers is a speed limiter mandate.

In May, FMCSA issued a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to consider requiring most commercial motor vehicles to 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.

The FMCSA is accepting comments on the supplemental notice through July 18. Nearly 15,000 people have already commented, and a significant majority are opposed.

OOIDA encourages its members to comment if they haven’t already.

“We unequivocally oppose any action that would mandate speed limiters,” OOIDA wrote in May. “Studies and research have proven that traffic is safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed. Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles and will lead to more crashes. Any efforts to mandate speed limiters will take more control out of the driver’s hands and penalize small businesses.”

Although FMCSA’s supplemental notice breathed new life into a potential speed limiter mandate, the agency doesn’t appear to be in a hurry. The speed limiter rulemaking remains in FMCSA’s long-term actions, and a second notice of proposed rulemaking isn’t projected until June 2023.

Other rulemakings on the regulatory agenda

FMCSA is projected to issue a notice of proposed rulemaking regarding self-insurance in April.

The agency will propose to amend fees collected for the processing of new self-insurance applications and add new fees for ongoing monitoring of carrier compliance with the self-insurance program requirements.

According to the agenda, application fees would be directed to FMCSA’s licensing and insurance account while monitoring fees must be sent to the Treasury. The rulemaking would aim to ensure that the limited number of primarily large motor carriers that benefit from the program bear a proportionate cost of participating in the program.

Some of the other rulemakings listed on the FMCSA agenda would cover performance standards for automatic emergency braking systems, a revised ELD mandate aimed at deterring harassment, safety fitness procedures, broker and freight forwarder financial responsibility, automated driving systems, CDL testing and the Drug and Alcohol Clearinghouse.

A full list of rulemakings on the U.S. Department of Transportation’s regulatory agenda can be found here.

Also of note, the Environmental Protection Agency projects a final rule regarding the control of air pollution on new heavy-duty vehicles and engines for December.

OOIDA argues that new technology shouldn’t be mandated. The Association says that once the equipment is proven to work properly and reduce costs, motor carriers will line up to purchase the new trucks.

“All truckers are supporters of clean air, but EPA should not use the consumer as a guinea pig,” OOIDA wrote in recent comments. “The technology used in heavy-duty trucks to reduce emissions has to be affordable and reliable.” LL