Large Commercial Vehicles May Be Required to Install Speed Limiters

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic and Safety Administration (NHTSA) have announced a joint rule that potentially would require trucks, buses, and passenger vehicles in excess of 26,000 pounds to install speed-limiting devices. By capping speeds at 60, 65, and 68 mph, not only could these vehicles avoid becoming involved in fatal accidents, but they also would save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs. The idea behind the rule stemmed from concerns about the estimated 1,115 fatal crashes involving large trucks that occur every year.

Whatever capped speed FMCSA and NHTSA ultimately decide upon, the electronic speed limiting device would make it physically impossible for newly manufactured U.S. vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds to go any faster than the device permits. The current proposal would not require existing older vehicles with a weight in excess of 26,000 pounds to install the limiter, although regulators are may consider that step in the future.

The push toward speed limiters for large commercial vehicles arose from a nonprofit group, Roadsafe America, who later was joined by American Trucking Associations, the largest trucking industry group in the United States. A couple from Atlanta, Georgia, founded Roadsafe America after their son was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer back in 2002. While regulators, safety advocates, and nonprofessional drivers approve of the proposed rule, professional truck drivers mostly disagree. They fear that their inability to go faster than a certain speed limit will create a multitude of dangerous situations for all parties involved.

Officials intend to make a final decision about the top speed after hearing public comments on the proposed rule. Most recently, according to a recent Safety and Health Magazine article, officials pushed back the deadline for public comments for 30 days, from November 7, 2016 to December 7, 2016. Officials adjusted the deadline in response to the more than 1,500 individuals and organizations who already have submitted comments during the previously advertised public comment period.

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