WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) today proposed equipping heavy-duty vehicles with speed limits on US roadways.
Both organizations say speed limiters are a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.
“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking ,” said US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.”
The proposal would establish safety standards requiring all newly manufactured US trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to come equipped with speed limiting devices. The proposal discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but the agencies agreed to consider other speeds based on public input.
“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 and the environment.”
“Safe trucking moves our economy and safe bus operations transport our loved ones,” added FMCSA administrator T.F. Scott Darling III. “This proposal will save lives while ensuring that our nation’s fleet of large commercial vehicles operates fuel efficiently.”
The proposal outlines that motor carriers operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated speed for the service life of the vehicle. While the maximum set travel speed will be determined in the final rule, estimates included in the proposal demonstrate that limiting heavy vehicles will save lives.
The American Trucking Associations (ATA) hailed the proposal.
“We are pleased NHTSA and FMCSA have, almost 10 years after we first petitioned them, released this proposal to mandate the electronic limiting of commercial vehicle speeds,” said ATA president and CEO Chris Spear. “Speed is a major contributor to truck accidents and by reducing speeds, we believe we can contribute to a reduction in accidents and fatalities on our highways…As an industry, we cannot be afraid of technology, but we also must make sure that technology has proven benefits.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. We will be carefully reviewing and commenting upon today’s proposal.”
However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is calling the proposal dangerous for all highway users adding that such devices create speed differentials that lead to more crashes and promote road rage among other motorists.
“Highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice-president of the OOIDA. “This wisdom has always been true and has not ever changed.”
The OOIDA said in a release that speed limiters take control out of the hands of drivers in that there are a number of scenarios that require drivers to accelerate in order to avoid danger.
“No technology can replace the safest thing to put in a truck, which is a well-trained driver,” concluded Spencer.