In a notice of upcoming significant rulemakings, Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is advising their intent to proceed with a motor carrier-based speed limiter rulemaking by preparing a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM) to follow up on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s and FMCSA jointly issued, 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking.
In 2017 under the Trump Administration, FMCSA removed from active consideration a proposed rule that would have mandated installation of speed limiters in all commercial motor vehicles (CMVs) weighing over 26,000 pounds. Although stopping short of formally withdrawing the speed limiter proposal altogether, the Agency assigned it to an “inactive” status. Most thought the rulemaking would see no further consideration.
The notice further advises FMCSA will propose to require owners or operators of CMVs with a gross vehicle weight of 26,000 pounds or more operating in interstate commerce and manufactured after model year 2003, to set the engine control unit to a maximum speed of 68 miles per hour (MPH).
Uniform speed limit
The proposed national speed limit of 68 MPH is sure to draw fire from several sectors regarding the wisdom of all CMVs traveling at a uniform speed. The American Trucking Associations’ revised position is 70 MPH, while safety advocate groups have argued for 60 MPH.
“The agency will need to make a strong case that a uniform speed limit would actually be safer,” commented UMA’s Ken Presley. “While UMA has not opposed speed limiters, since most motorcoaches already have them, we have questioned the wisdom of a uniform speed limit for all CMVs, particularly considering former FMCSA Administrator Julie Cirillo’s testimony before Congress: “Adherence to differential speed limits creates a situation where a significant percentage of traffic is operating more slowly than general traffic. The studies described herein establish that this is always unsafe.”
Some will recall that many states established lower speed limits for CMVs only to reverse the laws. “Frankly, FMCSA is likely going to see a state’s rights legal challenge,” commented Presley.
The rule was slated to be out earlier this year and then pushed back. Currently the rule is scheduled to be released on December 29, 2023.
The U.S. House of Representatives and Senate have pending bills that, if passed, would prohibit FMCSA from moving forward with the rulemaking.