Speed limiter mandate comment period now open

May 4, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Since the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration announced last week that it was reviving its proposal to mandate speed limiters on commercial motor vehicles, thousands of truck drivers have taken to social media in opposition.

However, a comment on Facebook or Twitter has little to no significance in the regulatory world. If truck drivers really want the agency to know why they believe speed limiters would be bad for the industry, they need to submit an official comment of FMCSA’s advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking.

And the time to do so is now.

FMCSA’s proposal about requiring speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles officially published in the Federal Register on Wednesday, May 4. Truck drivers and the general public now have 30 days to provide feedback.

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.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking all of its more than 150,000 members to comment on the supplementary notice.

“OOIDA encourages you to submit comments on FMCSA’s speed limiter notice,” the Association wrote in its Call to Action. “We unequivocally oppose any action that would mandate speed limiters. 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.”

Speed limiters set at 60, 65 or 68 mph would create a drastic speed differential between commercial motor vehicles and passenger vehicles in various parts of the country. The fastest speed limit in the United States is 85 mph on a tollway outside of Austin, Texas.

Portions of Idaho, Montana, Nevada, Oklahoma, South Dakota, Texas, Utah and Wyoming all have road networks with speed limits of 80 mph.

Considering that passenger vehicles often push the posted speed limit by another 5 mph or more, the proposal could create a situation where cars and light-duty trucks are traveling 25-30 mph faster that commercial motor vehicles on the same highway.

FMCSA’s proposal follows the National Roadway Safety Strategy’s determination that speed is a major factor in fatal crashes. The agency said it was moving forward with the rulemaking because of concerns about the number of commercial motor vehicle crashes and fatalities traveling at high speeds.

“In 2019 alone, there were nearly 900 fatal crashes in areas with posted speed limits over 70 miles per hour,” FMCSA wrote.

In addition to concerns about speed differentials, OOIDA noted that most commercial motor vehicle crashes occur in speed limits below 55 mph, which would mitigate the effect of any potential mandate. Going even further, slowing trucks down to 60 mph in a 75 mph zone could motivate drivers to speed through construction zones, other low-speed zones, or through inclement weather to try to make a delivery on time.

How to comment

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

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.