Commercial Truckers May Get Speed Limited

Commercial truckers may need speed limiting devices to keep on truckin’ if lawmakers have their way.

The U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) is putting the kabash on commercial truckers to limit the ‘pedal to the metal’ on U.S. roadways.

The DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have recommended that heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with devices that prevent exceeding maximum speed settings.

The DOT says the proposed regulation could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs nationwide each year for commercial truckers and the growing trucking industry.

In Pennsylvania there were 6,595 traffic crashes involving heavy-duty trucks in 2014, according to the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation Report on Crash Facts and Statistics. There were also 151 truck-related traffic fatalities.

Federal Agencies anticipate these numbers will come down with the new speed limiter requirement.

“This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety.”

New Commercial Truckers Safety Standards for Manufacturers and Motor Carriers

If the new safety standards are enacted, they will affect both manufacturers and motor carriers.

Manufacturers of new trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross weight rating greater than 26,000 pounds would be required to equip those vehicles with speed limiting devices. Maximum speed limits under consideration are 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour.

The speed limiting devices would be required equipment for new heavy-duty vehicles manufactured after the new rules take place sometime after 2018. Speed limiter technology works with a truck engine’s electronic control to govern vehicle speeds. Older trucks do not have electronic controls. It is not known whether speed limiters will be a retrofit requirement for those vehicles.

Motor carriers, which employ semi-truck and bus drivers, would also bare new responsibilities under the proposal. Those operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated speed for the life of the vehicle.

The regulation has the support of the American Trucking Association (ATA), the largest trucking industry trade group, plus nine of the largest motor carriers.

“As an industry, we cannot be afraid of technology, but we also must make sure that technology has proven benefits,” said Chris Spear, Chief Executive of the ATA. “Carriers who already voluntarily use speed limiters have found significant safety, as well as fuel efficiency and equipment lifespan benefits with little to no negative impact on productivity.”

Opponents of the regulation say speed governing can cause safety hazards. If trucks are running side-by-side on the highway and can’t pass each other, they can create rolling roadblocks and traffic congestion. “Speed limiting devices are harmful to all highway users because they promote road rage and increase the likelihood for collisions,” said Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.

The regulation’s details will be published in the Federal Register in early September. The trucking industry and other interested parties have 60 days to comment on the regulation.