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FMCSA backtracks on speed limiter proposal

Sept. 28, 2023
The agency on Monday published a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking that would limit heavy trucks to 68 mph on highways. However, the agency now says an exact speed limit will be determined at a later date.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration has received backlash from trucking groups over a proposed 68 mph speed limiter mandate—a number now rescinded from government documents as the agency states it will continue to ascertain what speed limit would be safest for America’s roadways.

The original report published Monday, which has been taken offline, initially stated the regulation would cap heavy truck speeds at 68 mph. However, FMCSA has since amended the supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking, stating in the Department of Transportation’s September 2023 Significant Rulemaking Report. that the speed will be determined at the time of rulemaking, which is planned for publication on Dec. 29.

The report follows an FMCSA notice of intent from April 2023 on its commitment to follow up on a 2016 notice of proposed rulemaking proposing that governing devices be installed in Class 7-8 commercial motor vehicles.

Speed limiters are a contentious topic among trucking groups, with some saying the safety devices are more likely to cause accidents than prevent them.

“Forcing trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles and leads to more crashes. It’ll be like an obstacle course for passenger vehicle drivers on our highways. This isn’t safe for truckers, but especially not safe for passenger vehicle drivers sharing the road with trucks. The unintended consequences of this misguided regulation will cost innocent lives,” said Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer.

Other organizations, such as the American Trucking Associations, are more agreeable to the idea, with ATA supporting a 65 mph federal speed limit for tractor-trailers, or 70 mph for trucks equipped with safety systems.

"These are all things that have not only improved performance but have benefits to fuel efficiency and certainly have not compromised safety," ATA President and CEO Chris Spear said at an Arkansas Trucking Associations event in May.

ATA's policy on speed limiters "has evolved," Spear noted, as fleets experience the benefits of technologies such as automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. The association supports a 65 mph federal speed limit for tractor-trailers, or 70 mph for trucks equipped with safety systems.

This story originally appeared on FleetOwner.com.