Mandatory Speed Limiter Face Opposition from Trucking Assoc.

Trucking Associations Push Back Against Mandatory Speed Limiter

In August 2023, a coalition of trucking organizations, including the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) and the American Trucking Associations (ATA), expressed support for the Deregulating Restrictions on Interstate Vehicles and Eighteen-Wheelers (DRIVE) Act in the U.S. Senate. This act aims to block the mandates for speed limiters on large commercial vehicles.

Senator Steve Daines (R-MT) supported the DRIVE Act, highlighting that excessive government mandates can make truckers’ jobs harder and even endanger their lives. Trucking associations like OOIDA, Montana Trucking Association, Western State Trucking Association, and the National Association of Small Trucking Companies, among others, stand behind the DRIVE Act, opposing the speed limiter mandate.

OOIDA President Todd Spencer pointed out that speed limiters could turn highways into obstacle courses for passenger vehicle drivers due to the increase in interactions between vehicles. He also argued that in rural states like Montana, speed limiters would create additional speed differences between trucks and cars, further compromising highway safety.

In April 2022, the U.S. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) filed a Notice of Intent (NOI) to inform the public about their plans to move forward with the speed limiter rule making process. This move brings the U.S. one step closer to mandating speed limiters in commercial vehicles, but the specific maximum speeds have not been established yet.

The idea of mandating speed limiters in commercial vehicles has been under consideration for years, with a Notice of Proposed Rule Making (NPRM) filed back in 2016. However, the FMCSA acknowledges that perspectives on this matter may have changed over time.

Advocates of speed limiters argue that they can improve safety on the roads by ensuring vehicles travel at a more consistent relative speed. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) president Todd Spencer, however, opposes the mandate, claiming that limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic can lead to more crashes, as it increases interactions between vehicles.

He pointed out that most crashes involving commercial vehicles occur in areas where speed limits are below 55 mph (88 km/h), which reduces the potential effectiveness of any mandate. Additionally, he emphasized that many trucks are already limited to speeds well below the posted speed limits, causing traffic congestion on highways.

The American Trucking Association (ATA) took a different stance and welcomed the FMCSA’s data-driven approach to the issue. They supported the use of speed limiters, proposing maximum set speeds of 70 mph for trucks equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking and adaptive cruise control, and 65 mph for trucks without these features.

Interestingly, neighboring Canada has already implemented mandated speed limiters in two of its largest provinces, Ontario and Quebec, since 2009. A study conducted by the Ontario Ministry of Transportation (MTO) revealed that speed-related, at-fault collisions involving large commercial vehicles decreased by 73% after the implementation of speed limiter legislation.

The debate surrounding speed limiters in commercial vehicles continues, with proponents emphasizing improved road safety through consistent speeds and opponents raising concerns about potential negative impacts on traffic flow and safety. As the NOI and the comments collected from the public move through the rulemaking process, it remains to be seen how the U.S. government will ultimately proceed with this contentious issue.

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