SPECIAL REPORT: Agencies seek comments on speed limiter petitions

| 1/26/2007

Friday, Jan. 26, 2007 - Petitions requesting the government to require speed limiters be set at 68 mph and not tampered with are being considered by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

NHTSA and FMCSA are requesting comments on petitions for rulemaking from the American Trucking Association and Road Safe America and a group of nine motor carriers. The petitions request devices that would limit the speed of certain trucks and prohibit owners and operators from adjusting the speed limiting devices.

The notice seeking comments was posted on the Federal Register Friday, Jan. 26.

Between September and October 2006 several petitions were submitted requesting truck manufacturers be required to install speed limiters on trucks greater than 26,000 pounds to no more than 68 mph. The petitions also asked FMCSA to prohibit anyone from adjusting the speed limiters.

The federal agencies want comments to supplement a review of the material presented by ATA and the other petitioners, along with an evaluation of data or other relevant information the agencies may already have, in conducting a technical review of the petitions.

In the notice for comments, there are some particularly interesting results cited by the agencies regarding the impact of speeding on large-truck crashes.

For example the agencies reference a 1991 NHTSA report to Congress titled ''Commercial Motor Vehicle Speed Control Safety." The report found that non-detectable radar studies show that compliance of speed limits by combination-unit trucks was poor, "but better than that of passenger vehicles."

It went on to state that most trucks that were speeding traveled at just over the posted speed limit.

"Crash statistics indicated that speeding was generally less involved in combination unit truck crashes than it was in passenger vehicle crashes," the agencies cited from the report.

After considering the technical review and comments submitted a decision will be made whether to grant or deny either or both of these petitions.

Where to send comments

The comment deadline is March 27. Comments can be signed or submitted anonymously. Anyone can submit comments. All submissions must include the agency name and docket number, NHTSA-2007-26851.

To submit your completed comments, you can:

Docket Management Facility

U.S. Department of Transportation

400 Seventh St. SW, Nassif Building Room PL-401

Washington, DC 20590-0001

- By Jami Jones, senior editor