Anthony Foxx, the U.S. Transportation secretary, has announced a proposal that, if approved, would see the nation’s heavy-duty commercial trucks equipped with devices that limit their speeds on U.S. roadways.
The proposed law, initiated by DOT’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA), would require these devices be set to a maximum speed, claiming it would be a safety measure that could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.
“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking,” Foxx said. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation and our environment.”
The department’s proposal would establish safety standards requiring all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to come equipped with speed limiting devices. The proposal discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but the agencies will consider other speeds based on public input.
Meanwhile, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) hailed the proposal to electronically limit the maximum speeds of new trucks as a potential step forward for safety.
“We are pleased NHTSA and FMCSA have, almost 10 years after we first petitioned them, released this proposal to mandate the electronic limiting of commercial vehicle speeds,” said ATA President and CEO Chris Spear. “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.”
In 2006, ATA adopted a policy in favor of limiting the maximum speed of new trucks to 68 miles per hour. Later that year, the association petitioned FMCSA and NHTSA to issue a regulation requiring their use. In 2008, as part of ATA’s 18-point highway safety agenda, the federation endorsed a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles.
“As an industry, we cannot be afraid of technology, but we also must make sure that 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. We will be carefully reviewing and commenting upon today’s proposal.”
“This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact. Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”
“Safe trucking moves our economy and safe bus operations transport our loved ones,” said FMCSA Administrator T.F. Scott Darling, III. “This proposal will save lives while ensuring that our nation’s fleet of large commercial vehicles operates efficiently.”
Motor carriers operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated speed for the service life of the vehicle under the proposal. While the maximum set travel speed will be determined in the final rule, estimates included in the proposal demonstrate that limiting heavy vehicles will save lives.
Requiring speed-limiting devices could also save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually, according to the government agency.
Members of the public can submit their comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov.