The American Trucking Associations is again urging the Department of Transportation to “move forward” with a rulemaking requiring installation of electronic speed-limiting devices on Class 7 and 8 trucks that operate on roads with posted speed limits of 55 mph or above.

Last week, DOT revealed that it has delayed publication of the Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for the joint FMCSA/NHTSA rule on Heavy Vehicle Speed Limiters” (RIN 2126-AB63.)

The NPRM was originally slated to be released on March 24, 2014, but its “new projected date” of publication is July 27th.   

While the rulemaking itself was initiated in May of 2013, ATA pointed out in a statement released Monday that nearly nine years have passed since the trucking lobby first petitioned DOT to mandate speed limiters.

“In 2006, as part of our longstanding commitment to highway safety, ATA petitioned the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to require the speed limiter on all large trucks be set in order to electronically limit their top speed to no more than 65 mph,” said ATA president and CEO Bill Graves.

“We waited patiently until the government finally said in January 2011 [that] they would move ahead with a speed limiter mandate, but this commonsense regulation has been mired in bureaucracy for over four years now,” he continued. “It is long past time for NHTSA and FMCSA to move ahead with this rule.”

Graves argued that “even though roughly 70% of trucking companies use electronic limiters, that is not enough. So we are again calling on NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind, who recently touted the benefits of speed limiters in the press, FMCSA General Counsel Scott Darling and Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx to move this important regulation forward.

"Further," he added, "I urge them to use their positions to push states to do the right thing – the safe thing – when it comes to speed limits for all vehicles and stem the dangerous tide of higher ones.”

There is no legal deadline attached to this rulemaking, as it was initiated by an administrative decision. Indeed, when the action was launched, DOT stated that the joint rulemakingwould respond to petitions from ATA and Roadsafe America to require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks.”

In response to those petitions, NHTSA requested public comment and has reported receiving “thousands of comments supporting the petitioner´s request” so far. The current projected date for closing the comment period is September 28, or two months after the NRPM is now expected to be issued.

“This rulemaking would consider a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard that would require the installation of speed limiting devices on heavy trucks,” DOT has stated. “We believe this rule would have minimal cost, as all heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the limit set.”

As ATA sees it, slowing trucks down will reduce the frequency and severity of crashes. The association pointed out that “Federal data show that driving too fast for conditions or over the posted speed limit was the primary reason for 18% of all fatal crashes where a large truck was deemed at fault.” 

ATA also stated that, on a national basis, speed is a cause or factor in nearly 30% of all fatal crashes. That’s why the trucking lobby wants to do more than electronically limit the speed of heavy trucks.

“In addition to slowing truck speeds, ATA believes in slowing down all traffic,” Graves said. “That’s why we back a national speed limit for all vehicles of 65 mph and are disturbed by the recent trend of states raising their speed limits to 70, 75, 80, or in some areas even 85 miles per hour. These limits are reckless and are needlessly endangering millions of motorists.” 

“We limit the speeds of our trucks to 65 mph,” noted ATA Chairman Duane Long, chairman of Longistics, Raleigh, N.C., “because it makes good safety sense, and as a bonus, it makes good economic sense. Our safety record is better because we limit speeds, we use less fuel because we limit speeds and we spend less on repairs and maintenance of our trucks because we limit our speeds.”

As part of its campaign, ATA is asking those participating in the discussion about speed limiters and speed limits on social media to use this hashtag: #SlowDownSaveLives.

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