The release of a proposal to require speed limiters on most commercial motor vehicles is behind schedule because of the time needed to review more than 15,000 comments.
The Federal Motor Carrier Administration planned to release a notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking on speed limiters in June. However, FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson told Land Line Now’s Scott Thompson that the proposal won’t be unveiled until later in 2023.
“You should start looking for it by the end of summer or early fall,” Hutcheson said “It’s a little behind where we thought we would be, but we take the comments very seriously, and we need to spend some time with them.”
Last year, FMCSA issued an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking that considers requiring commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices. The advance notice did not include a top speed, but 60, 65 and 68 mph have been floated in previous proposals.
The notice garnered about 15,600 comments, with the majority coming from truck drivers opposed to a mandate.
“Thanks to the 15,000 people who provided feedback on the rule,” Hutcheson said. “We take that pretty seriously. We might be just a tiny bit behind schedule, because we read all those and we use all those. That’s the second highest response we’ve gotten from any rule we’ve ever proposed.”
Even so, the agency remains committed to moving forward with a notice of supplemental rulemaking that will include a proposed maximum speed for heavy-duty trucks. Hutcheson did not provide a specific target month for the release of the proposal, but a forthcoming spring 2023 regulatory agenda is expected to provide more details.
The full interview with Hutcheson will be included in an upcoming episode of Land Line Now.
Speed limiter opposition
Proponents of a speed limiter mandate argue that slowing trucks down will improve highway safety and lessen the severity of crashes.
However, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is among the groups who believe the mandate would create dangerous speed differentials. Some states have speed limits as fast as 85 mph, meaning that the flow of traffic can be traveling even faster. A 60 mph top speed, which has been proposed by truck safety groups and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, would mean that trucks could be traveling 30 mph slower than cars and light-duty trucks on the same road.
“By establishing a one-size-fits-all federal mandate restricting commercial motor vehicles to a speed as low as 60 mph, this regulation would also undoubtedly lead to higher crash rates by creating dangerous speed differentials between CMVs and other vehicles, such as automobiles,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Lewie Pugh wrote in his submitted testimony to a House subcommittee earlier this week. “Decades of highway research shows greater speed differentials increase interactions between trucks and cars, and studies have consistently demonstrated that increasing interactions between vehicles directly increases the likelihood of crashes.”
Last week, Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., introduced the Deregulating Restrictions on Interstate Vehicles and Eighteen Wheelers Act. The bill, HR3039, would prohibit the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration from promulgating any rule or regulation mandating speed limiters.
OOIDA supports the DRIVE Act and sent a Call to Action to its more than 150,000 members. OOIDA is asking its members to reach out to their representatives and ask them to be a co-sponsor. As of May 12, the bill already had 10 co-sponsors.
Brecheen joined Land Line Now last week to tell listeners why FMCSA’s speed limiter rulemaking must be stopped.
Many states that once had separate speed limits for cars and heavy-duty trucks changed their laws because they believed it is safer for vehicles traveling on the same road to be operating at the same speed. Brecheen said that if FMCSA is allowed to determine trucks’ top speed, it would remove a state’s ability to govern its roads.
“We need the ability to have our state legislators and state senators to listen to the people and make adjustments,” Brecheen told Land Line Now. “When the federal government does something, it’s put in place and ingenuity and creativity is often lost. We need the ability to adjust to different conditions.”
You can listen to Brecheen’s complete interview with Land Line Now below. LL