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  

About the author
David Cullen

David Cullen

[Former] Business/Washington Contributing Editor

David Cullen comments on the positive and negative factors impacting trucking – from the latest government regulations and policy initiatives coming out of Washington DC to the array of business and societal pressures that also determine what truck-fleet managers must do to ensure their operations keep on driving ahead.

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