Truck safety agency seeks speed limiters despite driver mistrust

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The Ministry of Transport is proposing a plan to force trucks to use speed limiters.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration proposed rule, which would affect trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, is expected to be published in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The maximum speed would be set in a final rule.

The agency’s initial announcement last week sparked differing opinions on whether it would make the roads safer. FMCSA will be taking comments on the proposal for next month.

“Traffic is safer when vehicles are all traveling at the same relative speed,” said Todd Spencer, president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association. “Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles, which can lead to more accidents.”

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

Cars and trucks drive along the Cross Bronx Freeway in New York on November 16, 2021.

The advance notice of proposed additional regulations, which builds on a 2016 proposal, comes after years of advocacy by safety groups. The Truck Safety Coalition, which supports the move, said rules requiring the use of speed limiters in trucks have been delayed more than 20 times in the past decade.

“It’s high time to implement a speed limit rule,” Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Board member Pamela Biddle said in a statement. “Every day we delay, lives are lost.”

Transport safety advocates have called for the rule in a February letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The independent National Transportation Safety Board has also included large truck speed limiters on its “Most Wanted Safety Upgrades List”.

Trucking groups are divided on the proposal. OOIDA, who does not want this to advance, said most accidents with commercial motor vehicles occur when speed limits are below 55 mph, which the group says would weaken “the effect of any potential mandate”.

The American Trucking Associations is more supportive of the proposal. The group supports a maximum speed limit of 70 mph in trucks with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, and a limit of 65 mph without these features. The group opposed a speed limit rule if it is in the 60s.

“ATA is pleased that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is continuing a constructive, data-driven approach to the issue of truck speed limiters in its latest proposal,” said Chris Spear, group president and chief executive, in a statement.

Lawmakers are also pushing for the rule in legislation. A bipartisan bill (HR 3523) in the House would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to require large trucks to have speed-limiting technology, then set the speed limit at 65 mph, or 70 mph if the vehicles are equipped with adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency brakes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in washington at [email protected]

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage to [email protected]; Robin Meszoly to [email protected]

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