Truck Speed-Limiter Rule Stalls in Trump’s Washington

July 21, 2017

By David Cullen

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Photo: FMCSA
Photo: FMCSA

The drive to mandate speed-limiters on trucks has sputtered out— at least for now— courtesy of the Trump Administration's push to cut federal regulations.

The revised “unified agenda,” published on July 20 by the Office of Management and Budget, reveals that a speed-limiter rule has fallen off the near-term agendas for both the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. 

“By amending and eliminating regulations that are ineffective, duplicative, and obsolete, the administration can promote economic growth and innovation and protect individual liberty," the White House Office of Management and Budget said in a statement upon posting the updated agenda.

After a decade-long push by trucking and safety advocates, last August the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and FMCSA jointly proposed a rule that would require heavy-duty vehicles to be equipped with speed-limiting devices.

The rule would require each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings through its onboard diagnostic connection. And carriers would be required to maintain the speed-limiting device for the service life of the vehicle.

But no actual speed limit was proposed for the devices. DOT only proposed discussing “the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 mph” and that it “will consider other speeds based on public input.”

Chris Spear, president and CEO of the American Trucking Associations, slammed the proposal last October for its lack of specificity and the dearth of research backing it up. “The various differentials in speed from what this rule proposes and what state speed limits are is dangerous,” he contended.

More than 5,400 public comments were filed on the proposal, after a 30-day extension granted because of high interest. Given that, it was highly unlikely-- even before President Trump took office-- that this rule was headed anywhere fast.

“Generally, FMCSA's latest agenda is light,” wrote Avery Vise, president of compliance consultancy TransComply in a blog post. “Most rulemakings [still listed] are those already proposed relating to military drivers and relaxing restrictions on commercial learner's permits.”

However, he also pointed out that “the Trump administration apparently plans to pursue a regulation related to moderate-to-severe obstructive sleep apnea. While FMCSA and the Federal Railroad Administration had eyed joint regulations on sleep apnea, the issue is not on FRA's latest agenda.” 

Commenting on the speed-limiter rule coming off the agenda, Lane Kidd, managing director of The Trucking Alliance advocacy group, told HDT that the alliance “agrees with the U.S. Department of Transportation’s research that requiring transportation companies to simply turn on the speed limiter device that are already in every truck built since 1992, will reduce the severity of injuries and fatalities of people involved in large truck accidents.

“Limiting tractor trailers to a reasonable maximum speed makes common sense and companies that utilize speed limiters are safer and also more profitable because they gain fuel savings, and better brake and tire wear,” he continued. “Speed limiters are coming, either through the legislative or regulatory process because they will save lives, and we won’t give up the effort until we achieve that goal.” 

Offering a less sanguine take on the rule’s fate, Norita Taylor, spokesperson for the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Associations told HDT that, “We [at OOIDA] know that there are entities that still want to push dangerous speed limiters under the guise of safety.”

Related: DOT Extends Speed-Limiter Rule Comment Period  


  1. 1. Michael [ July 24, 2017 @ 09:49AM ]

    If we want to save lives, the best and most effective solution to this problem is to have the auto industry install speed limiters on their vehicles before they arrive to the dealership.

  2. 2. Quinid [ July 24, 2017 @ 07:42PM ]

    Lowering the speed and essentially making the driver work longer for the same pay will not make it safer as they intend. The dash cams the trucking companies are installing will prove that. It's the cars and pickups ignoring basic traffic laws that are causing accidents.

  3. 3. Karry Shepherd [ August 02, 2017 @ 04:45AM ]

    All modern trucks, automobiles, and motorcycles already have speed limiters on them. Most are set at excessively high speeds. Simply requiring a maximum be set at a reasonable speed would be a no cost maneuver that would settle this discussion. When excessive speed causes damages or injury, trace it back to the person that altered the factory setting and they can share in the financial responsibility with the at fault speeder. Give the rule teeth so it will be followed.

  4. 4. Randy B. [ February 08, 2018 @ 12:44PM ]

    Each state has different speed limits and laws.... why? Because setting the speed limit laws, ON ANY VEHICLE, is a state sovereignty right that each state legislature decides for its own respective states, and is protected by the 10th amendment of the US Constitution.
    The 10th amendment specifically outlines the original 18 enumerated powers the federal government was created to have, control, and dictate, AND ANYTHING OUTSIDE OF THOSE ENUMERATED POWERS, is left to to each individual state to control and decide for themselves. Constitutionally, there is no power deligated to the federal government to control speed limits in any individual state, on any vehicle! Listen, if it has been in the power of the federal government to dictate and mandate speed limits across the board in all states collectively, TRUST ME, the federal government would have done it a LONG time ago....the federal government doesn't just not exercise it's authoritative powers for the hell of it, or just because it's doesn't feel like it, NO, the feds make sure and press their control in ALL AREAS the Constitution gives them the authority to control. And the reason why there isn't a federally mandated law already, is because it's not in the federal government's power to do so!
    The Federal Dept of Transportation does set safety laws for federal commerce, yes, but those safety rules and guidelines CANNOT supersede the states US constitutional right to decide on matters that are under the states legislative power to set for themselves.
    If a highly congested state wishes for trucks in its state borders to do 65 mph, and cars to do 75, then so be it....BUT THAT DECISION COMES FROM THEIR RESPECTIVE AND SOVEREIGN LEGISLATION TO CHOOSE FOR THEMSELVES, and not determined by federal mandate in Washington!
    The ONLY LEGAL way the head of the ATA can get Congress the Constitutional power to make such a speed mandate law, is to get ALL 50 STATES to voluntarily agree and capitulate to give up what has forever been their protected state sovereign right to choose for themselves on these matters,... and understanding that forfeiture of that freedom of state sovereignty is something not given up lightly....good luck!
    AND, if the federal Congress tries to pass such federal legislation for which they have no constitutional grounds to control, and FORCE the individual states to that tyranny, then any and all states would have the right to instantly nullify it, and immediately make a direct challenge to the United States Supreme Court..... in which this would absolutely be overturned!


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