The nation’s largest trucking industry trade group is lining up against a federal proposal to use an electronic device to limit the top speed of heavy-duty trucks.
In a filing Thursday, the American Trucking Associations said it supports reducing speeds but opposes the way the proposed rule – written by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration – would function.
Regulators have proposed using speed limiters to cap maximum truck speeds at 60, 65 or 68 mph miles per hour for commercial vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds. The federal agencies also said they will consider other speeds based on public input.
Chris Spear, the trade group’s chief executive, told Trucks.com that it’s not clear how a menu of top speeds will work, especially when passenger vehicles are traveling at a faster pace on the same roads. How the proposed rule would work is complicated by a patchwork of state-determined speed limits that typically allow passenger vehicles to travel at much higher speeds than commercial trucks, he said.
“So if you are running at 60 mph, which is one of the three speeds they propose, and a state’s limit is set at 75 or something, that’s a pretty big differential,” Spear said. “You minimize the time that a driver has to slow down before they run into the back end of another truck, which is a legitimate concern,” he said.
As written, the proposed rule “provides insufficient data, and fails to make a recommendation regarding which of the three proposed speeds it believes is best and why,” Spear said. “This lack of data and direction only elevates the safety risks to the motoring public.”
The ATA supports a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles, commercial and passenger cars.
The speed limiter proposal may also be running into objections from other quarters.
Another trade group, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, has opposed any efforts to mandate speed limiters.
“Speed limiting devices are harmful to all highway users because they promote road rage and increase the likelihood for collisions,” Norita Taylor, spokeswoman for OOIDA, told Trucks.com.
Several organizations have asked the Department of Transportation for more time to submit public comments, according to a department spokesman. The deadline is Nov. 7.
Traffic safety regulators believe electronically limiting the speed of big rigs would reduce crashes involving heavy duty trucks. Large truck and bus collisions accounted for almost 4,000 deaths in 2014, according to the latest FMCSA data.
Slower speeds also would save more than $1 billion in fuel costs annually, regulators said.
The ATA, and nine of the largest carriers, have pushed regulators to mandate speed limiters for several years.
“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,” Spear said recently.
“As an industry we cannot be afraid of technology, but we also must make sure the technology has proven benefits,” Spear said. “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.