Speed limiter notice flooded by comments from truckers

May 9, 2022

Mark Schremmer

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Thousands of truck drivers and others in the public have already submitted comments on the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s notice about speed limiters.

On May 4, FMCSA’s proposal about requiring speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles was published in the Federal Register. Less than a week later, the Regulations.gov website indicates the agency had received 5,464 comments.

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 public comment period remains open through June 3.

Not surprisingly, the majority of the comments visible on the Regulations.gov website oppose the mandate.

Many of the comments echo the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association’s stance that a mandate would do more harm than good.

“Limiting speeds in trucks will not make them safer,” wrote Beyond Dirt LLC. “All it will do is impede traffic in places where the truck speed limit is higher, making driving a truck more dangerous for the truck driver, because the cars around it will be making aggressive maneuvers to get around it. This law is an overreach. If there is a problem with a few truck speeding, you need to use the state patrol to enforce the speed limit on those law-breaking drivers, and not make this job more dangerous for the rest of us.”

Considering that there are highways in the United States with speed limits of 80 and 85 mph, governing trucks’ speed to 68 mph or less would create a drastic speed differential between commercial motor vehicles and the general flow of traffic.

“This is a stupid idea,” wrote Karl Wendtand. “The danger of more accidents from cars hitting trucks will go up more if you do this. I own my truck and even though it will go much faster I drive it at the speed that gives me the best safety and fuel mileage. I have over 42 years on the road and have never had an accident or even a ticket in 30 years. Punishing me and other professional drivers for actions by car drivers is not only unfair and discriminating to those of us who do the hard work of delivering everything you buy. If you really want to lose the older and safer drivers, then pass this regulation.”

Truck driver Tyler DeBarr offered his experience, saying that there are times when he’s had to accelerate to avoid crashes.

“Trucking companies and owner-operators should determine how fast they want their trucks to go, not the government,” DeBarr wrote. “If trucks can only run 60-65 mph, it will severely limit our abilities to merge with traffic, as well as avoid hazards and collisions with other vehicles. Many times I have had to speed up and move to the left lane to avoid another vehicle attempting to merge into my lane of traffic. Yes, you could slow down and let them over but with a large truck that isn’t always the best course of action.”

Truck driver John Cochran suggested that any regulators who believe this is a good idea should do a ride-along with a trucker.

“This idea is horrible,” Cochran wrote. “You all need to ride in a truck for a week. You would then see the real side of trucks. Just because it looks good on paper, it doesn’t mean it is safe. If all trucks are going the same speed, cars will get mad and try to get around no matter the risk they take.

“It’s a very bad idea and will further cripple the industry. So many of us will leave the industry and park the trucks. You can’t get the supply chain caught up now. What do you think will happen with fewer trucks on the road? Stop trying to control our every move. We aren’t robots.”

OOIDA has not filed its official comments against the speed limiter mandate yet, but the Association has made its opposition well known.

“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.”

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

OOIDA encourages all truck drivers to submit comments on the speed limiter notice before the June 3 deadline. The Association has made the process easy through its Fighting for Truckers website. The public also can go to the Regulations.gov website and enter 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.