Speed limiter notice about to hit Federal Register

May 3, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is moving forward with an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking to mandate speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles. Beginning Wednesday, May 4, truck drivers as well as the general public will have 30 days to comment.

Last week, the agency announced that it intended to take another look at the controversial rulemaking. The notice will officially publish to the Federal Register on May 4. FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a joint proposal in 2016.

FMCSA said 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.

“FMCSA intends to issue a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that would, if adopted, impose speed limitations on certain commercial motor vehicles subject to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations,” the agency wrote. “The rulemaking would propose that motor carriers operating certain commercial motor vehicles, as defined in 49 CFR 390.5, in interstate commerce that are equipped with an (electronic control unit) capable of setting speed limits be required to limit the (commercial motor vehicle) to a speed to be determined by the rulemaking and to maintain that limit for the service life of the vehicle.”

The agency also said it was considering making the rule apply only to commercial motor vehicles manufactured after a certain date, such as 2003. FMCSA plans to use the comments to determine if that approach should be revised in a later proposal.

OOIDA calls mandate dangerous

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association says that mandating heavy-duty trucks be limited to speeds well below the legal limit in many areas would cause more harm than good.

Studies and research have already proven what we were all taught long ago in driver’s ed classes – that  traffic is safest when vehicles all travel at the same relative speed,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles, which can lead to more crashes.”

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.

 In 2017, OOIDA published a video explaining the problems caused by speed limiters.

OOIDA encourages all of its members to submit comments on FMCSA’s speed limiter notice.

Questions

As part of the notice, FMCSA asked for stakeholders to answer the following questions.

  • What percentage of the commercial motor vehicle fleet currently uses speed limiting devices?
  • If in use, at what maximum speed are the devices generally set?
  • What skill sets or training are needed for motor carriers’ maintenance personnel to adjust or program electronic control units to set speed limits?
  • What tools or equipment are needed to adjust or program ECUs?
  • How long would adjustment or reprogramming of an ECU take?
  • Where can the adjustment or reprogramming of an ECU be completed?
  • Do responses to questions 3 through 6 change based on the model year of the power unit?
  • Since the publication of the notice of proposed rulemaking, how has standard practice or technology changed as it relates to the ability to set speed limits using ECUs?
  • Are there any challenges or burdens associated with FMCSA publishing a rule without NHTSA updating the federal motor vehicle safety standards?
  • Should FMCSA revisit using the 2003 model year as the baseline requirement for the rule
  • Should FMCSA consider a retrofit requirement in the rule and, if so, should it be based on model year or other criteria, and what would the cost of such a requirement be?
  • Should FMCSA include Classes 3-6 (i.e., 10,001-26,001 pounds gross vehicle weight rating) in the notice? 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.