DOT Proposes Speed Limiter Rule

Federal safety regulators are proposing that heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a specific maximum speed. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued jointly on Aug. 26 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The NPRM comes after a decade-long push by trucking and safety advocates to put such a requirement in place for trucks and other commercial vehicles.

For its part, NHTSA is calling for establishing a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. This FMVSS would require that each new “multipurpose” vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device.

The proposed standard would also 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 (including the time and date the settings were changed) through its onboard diagnostic connection.

FMCSA is proposing a complementary Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation that would require each commercial motor vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a specified speed.

In addition, carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle.

However, no speed limit has been proposed yet for the proposed limiters. The Department of Transportation said only that 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.”

“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.”

According to DOT, the two agencies’ review of the available data indicates that limiting the speed of heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries.

“We expect that, as a result of this joint rulemaking, virtually all of these vehicles would be limited to that speed,” stated DOT in its notice, which is to be published in the Federal Register. DOT said that implementing the proposal safety “could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.”

“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.”

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