The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) announced on May 4 that it will proceed with a speed limiter rulemaking by offering a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking.
This follows up on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s and FMCSA’s jointly issued notice of proposed rulemaking on Sept. 7, 2016. FMCSA stopped short of a formal withdrawal of the speed limiter proposal in 2017, opting to assign the rule to “inactive” status.
The notice does not specify any speed to which trucks will be limited, and it does not propose regulatory language to amend current regulations. Instead, it is a fact-finding and data-mining tool for FMCSA to determine how to best proceed with the rule.
The supplemental notice will propose that motor carriers operating commercial motor vehicles in interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating or gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more and equipped with an electronic engine control unit capable of governing the maximum speed be required to limit the CMV to a speed—to be determined by the rulemaking—and to maintain that ECU setting for the service life of the vehicle.
The speed limiter debate has been on the backburner since early in the Trump administration, which shelved it. But the Biden administration has brought it back.
The last time this issue was debated, industry reactions depended on geography, said Ken Presley, the United Motorcoach Association’s Vice President, Legislative & Regulatory Affairs & Industry Relations/COO.
“The last time this was in play,” Presley said, “if you were east of the Mississippi, most people were comfortable with a 68 mile per hour (limit). A lot of people preferred 70 miles per hour. But if you’re west of the Mississippi, you are in a whole different world, and most were opposed to any speed limit. So, we need to hear from you, and the Risk Management Committee will be looking at this.”
A joint rulemaking issued in 2016 by FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explored potentially limiting trucks to either 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour.
The agencies estimate that limiting the speed of heavy vehicles would have this effect:
- 60 mph would save 162 to 498 lives annually.
- 65 mph would save 63 to 214 lives annually.
- 68 mph would save 27 to 96 lives annually.