- Photo: Deborah Lockridge

Photo: Deborah Lockridge

A bipartisan bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives would require speed limiters on heavy trucks.

On May 25, Georgia Democrat Lucy McBath and New York Republican John Katko introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act.

Few details are yet available about the bill. However, a similarly named bill introduced in the Senate in 2019 directed the Department of Transportation to implement regulations to require all new commercial motor vehicles with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting technology, any existing speed-limiting technology already installed in such vehicles to be used while in operation, and the speed-limiting technology to be set to a maximum speed of 65 mph.

The bill is named for 22-year-old Atlanta resident Cullum Owings, who was killed in a car-truck collision in 2002 while returning to college. The legislation was long-championed by former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and is endorsed by the Truckload Carriers Association, the Trucking Alliance, AAA, the Institute for Safer Trucking, Road Safe America, the Safe Operating Speed Alliance, and the Academy of Truck Accident Attorneys.

“Millions of motorists are within a few feet of 80,000-pound tractor trailer rigs each day, and there is no reason why that equipment should be driven at 75 or 80 or 85 mph,” said Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Arkansas, co-founder and president of the Trucking Alliance and also a former chairman of the American Trucking Associations. “This legislation will reduce the severity of large truck crashes and make the nation’s roadways safer for our drivers and all of us."

Mandatory speed limiters have been widely expected to come up as an issue under the Biden administration.

In March, the American Trucking Associations and safety group Road Safe America sent a letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg outlining their support for guidelines for speed limiters for policymakers in Congress and at the Department of Transportation.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association swiftly responded, sending a letter to the U.S. Department of Transportation explaining its arguments against mandatory speed limiters, including a belief that creating a “speed differential” between cars and trucks is unsafe.

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