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FMCSA draws thousands of comments from drivers, carriers on speed limiter proposal

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FMCSA draws thousands of comments from drivers, carriers on speed limiter proposal
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration has so far received more than 8,100 comments on the Federal Register for its proposal to install speed limiters on commercial vehicles operating across the country.

WASHINGTON — The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) has so far received more than 8,100 comments on the Federal Register for its proposal to install speed limiters on commercial vehicles (CMVs) operating across the country.

Click here to participate.

The notice does not give a specific speed limit to be set; however, it does state that “the agency is considering making the rule only applicable to CMVs manufactured after a certain date, such as 2003, because this is the population of vehicles for which ECUs (electronic engine control units) were routinely installed and may potentially be used to govern the speed of the vehicles.”

Additionally, the rule, if adopted, would affect CMVs “in interstate commerce with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) or gross vehicle weight (GVW) of 11,794 kilograms or more (26,001 pounds or more), whichever is greater, that are equipped with ECUs 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 move is a follow-up to a 2016 joint proposal between the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for CMV speed limiters.

The comment period ends June 3.

“If you want more road rage and accidents make it mandatory for all trucks to do 65. Only people that jump on a plane or a helicopter and don’t share the same (sic) roads with the peasants would think speed limiters are a good idea,” wrote driver Gary Bucher.

Driver Robert Sloan wrote an extended comment.

“I’ve been a commercial driver for nearly 20 years,” he wrote.

“The most dangerous thing I have seen in my career is the use of split speed limits and having governed trucks running on a highway where the average vehicle is running 20+ mph faster than the governed truck. Split speed limits and governors kill. Governors cause congestion, road rage, cause unnecessary wrecks because of being a larger slower moving target and do nothing to improve fuel economy. Take a hard look at areas that have high truck congestion and the number of major wrecks. You will find that there are lots of wrecks that happen because of road rage and aggressive driving practices.”

Sloan continued: “Let’s use I-30 between Little Rock and Texarkana as an example. It’s mostly a 4 lane divided highway and 6 lanes closer to Little Rock. It’s a main route for freight and it’s always a mess. You end up with a snail race between a 61 mph truck and a 62 mph truck constantly. Which results in traffic jams because god forbid Mr 61mph back off to let the passing truck go or for that matter the faster truck slow and just ride. This results in people getting irritated. They start driving more aggressive and taking chances. Be it cutting in and out of traffic, passing on shoulders, splitting lanes, cutting people off, etc. Several times I’ve watched cars and even other trucks get around that mess and then immediately brake check the vehicles that were causing the hold up. Wrecks occur and often times there is major injury and/or death. Another issue with speed governors is that it doesn’t leave you an opportunity to make a run for a hill which causes you to drop speed and become a rolling hazard that can lead to a run under/rear end collision. Let trucks run the posted limit or be governed at the speed in which their tires are rated at from the factory (68-75 in most cases) and leave it at that. However if you’re going to govern trucks, then cars should be governed at the same speed. What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.”

A representative from Double S Trucking LLC wrote: “This proposal is not safe. Some states has speed limits that exceed 75 mph and now you want to impede traffic with slow moving vehicles. If speeding semis are a concern then put them on the trucks that keep breaking the law.”

“I believe this will cause more accidents as many 4 wheelers are not paying attention to our speeds and we will be like sitting ducks on the highways. I see most truckers out there driving at safe speeds and if you make this move to force us all slower the only ones that will be unsafe are the ones that are unsafe now.” — Getter Transfer LLC representative

 

A Mountain Glaze Transportation LLC representative kept their comment short, writing, “I wish you guys can be a day in a truck of a owner operator. This regulation is not right.”

A G & R Transport Express LLC representative wrote: “Differences/changes in speed are the main concern for accidents. We are put in much more danger when trucks are going excessively slower than the general public. I believe trucks should not be speed limited. If trucks are limited to 70 or 75 then all vehicles should be limited as well. Many passenger vehicles show no respect to commercial vehicles and that is when preventable accidents happen.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) has also criticized the plan.

A recent OOIDA statement said policies and devices that limit speeds for large trucks “create unnecessary congestion and dangerous speed differentials among vehicles, which lead to higher accident involvement rates.”

“Studies and research have already proven what we were all taught long ago in driver’s ed classes, that traffic is safest when vehicles all travel at the same relative speed,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said. “Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles which can lead to more crashes.”

Additionally, most crashes involving CMVs occur in areas with speed limits below 55 mph, mitigating the effect of any potential mandate, according to the OOIDA statement.

“What the motoring public should know is that when they are stuck behind trucks on long stretches of highway, those trucks are often limited to a speed well under the posted speed limit,” Spencer said.

Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) Vice President of Government Affairs David Heller wrote on TCA’s website that TCA staff “will review the notice and consult with our Regulatory Policy Committee in order to submit comments by the deadline…. We look forward to working with our members and FMCSA leadership to help craft a final rule that reflects TCA’s policy on speed limiters.”

TCA adopted the following stance on speed limiters in April 2021:

“The speed of all electronically governed Class 7 and 8 trucks manufactured after 1992 should be governed by tamperproof devices either limiting the vehicle to a fixed maximum of 65 mph or limiting the vehicle to 70 mph with the use of adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. The Department of Transportation should conduct a recurring five-year review of speed-governing regulations to ensure that the regulations are appropriate and consistent with currently deployed technologies. Although TCA does not have a position on setting speed limiters or engine control modules (ECMs) for passenger vehicles, it recommends states consider setting the speed limiters on the vehicles of drivers with certain driving convictions.”

Chris Spear, president of the American Trucking Associations (ATA), said the ATA supports FMCSA’s proposal.

“ATA is pleased that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is pursuing a constructive, data-driven approach to the issue of truck speed limiters in its latest proposal,” Spear wrote in a news release.

“We intend to thoroughly review FMCSA’s proposal, and we look forward to working with the agency to shape a final rule that is consistent with our policy supporting the use of speed limiters in conjunction with numerous other safety technologies,” he said.

There are some companies that have been using speed limiters on their rigs for years.

Walmart, for example, sets the top speed of its rigs at 65 mph.

Gary Garrison, president of Allstar Fuel, which operates a dozen 18-wheelers and a handful of bobtail trucks out of fuel outlets in the Texas cities of Plainview, Graham and Wichita Falls, recently told MyPlainView.com that one of the main reasons for speed limiters is safety.

“If you are involved in collisions, the slower speed does have a safety element,” he said, adding that accident avoidance is increased as slower speeds as well.

But “maybe the bigger reason is fuel conservation,” Baker added of Walmart’s 65 mph max.

A representative from Getter Transfer LLC said they see the issue from both a carrier and driver point of view, writing: “I am a Carrier and I am a driver and my opinion is that the problem out on the road is with other drivers not with Truckers. I see 4 wheelers on a daily basis cut me off and other truckers. They drive around us now like we are in the way imagine slowing us down 10 to 15 mph, that would put metro areas and many others at a standstill. I sometimes I need to accelerate to get out of a situation like someone merging next to me and I can’t slam on brake it is just safer to speed up when going on down grade. I also know that most hills I climb if I was limited to a slower speed it would cause me to loose all momentum and I would be impeding traffic on up hills much more than it happens when I can go faster down a hill.”

The comment continued: “I believe this will cause more accidents as many 4 wheelers are not paying attention to our speeds and we will be like sitting ducks on the highways. I see most truckers out there driving at safe speeds and if you make this move to force us all slower the only ones that will be unsafe are the ones that are unsafe now. The fuel prices are killing us the rates on loads are down. Now if you make me drive 55 that will be 110 miles less per day i can drive and that will be the final dagger in the financial heart. That is like taking a hole day a week pay from me but I still have to put in the same time.”

 

John Worthen

Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.

Avatar for John Worthen
Born in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and raised in East Texas, John Worthen returned to his home state to attend college in 1998 and decided to make his life in The Natural State. Worthen is a 20-year veteran of the journalism industry and has covered just about every topic there is. He has a passion for writing and telling stories. He has worked as a beat reporter and bureau chief for a statewide newspaper and as managing editor of a regional newspaper in Arkansas. Additionally, Worthen has been a prolific freelance journalist for two decades, and has been published in several travel magazines and on travel websites.
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2 Comments

I have only been a truck driver for just under 3 yrs. I have been driving a governed truck the whole time and it is really annoying when you cannot get around a slow driver at a decent clip because of the governor and it makes me and everyone around me very angry! There should be a law banning this practice!!!!

The ATA is full of shit. Walmart trucks run faster than 65. I know this because I pass them and I have to run faster. The problem with Walmart is that they think they own the road and try to push their ideals onto other trucke drivers. Doing 65 is not a problem if you stay in your right (or granny lane) for slower vehicles. Take a good look at Texas where the speed limit is 75 and you will see Walmart trucks running the speed limit of 75 not 65.
Get a life ATA, you’re just being a suck ass to the politicians.

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