The American Trucking Association and 47 of its state chapters have filed a request with U.S. Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx to extend the comment period on a controversial proposal that would mandate speed limiters in vehicles weighing more than 26,000 pounds.
The ATA, which has spent nearly a decade lobbying for the mandate, called the joint proposal issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration “a dramatic departure” from the group’s initial request in 2006.
The proposal seeks public comment on a variety of issues that generally are resolved prior to filing an NPRM – such as the speed at which heavy vehicles should be restricted, the financial impact to small-business truck and bus companies, and whether or not to limit the mandate to new vehicles only or order a retrofit for all trucks.
ATA’s letter notes that in the 10 years since its initial request, many safety technologies, additional scrutiny for motor carriers via the CSA program, and new state laws and speed limits “have changed the way motor carriers view and respond to safety concerns.”
“In addition, the proposed rule’s dramatic departure from ATA’s initial petition in terms of tamper-proofing, the lack of retrofit requirement, and the Agencies’ reluctance to specify a governed speed requires additional time for ATA and its federation partners to re-engage its membership on these important issues,” the group stated in its request to Secretary Foxx.
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association also filed a request to extend the comment period by 60 days, following the publishing of the NPRM.
In its request, OOIDA noted that the proposed rule is “one of the most significant” rulemakings in decades, and the current 60-day comment period needs to be extended to allow more time to adequately address the proposal.
“We need additional time to examine what exactly the agencies are hanging their hat on. To the best of our knowledge, when speed differentials are created on roadways and trucks are prohibited from going with the flow of traffic, accident rates increase and unsafe scenarios result,” said Laura O’Neill-Kaumo, OOIDA’s director of government affairs.
To say that doing the opposite will now somehow save lives and decades’ worth of research is all wrong is pretty puzzling. Considering how expensive and reckless this rule is, not to mention what it will do to small businesses, one would have to believe that the agencies are looking at something beyond just merely speculation, but what that something is I am not certain. We need to view the world through the looking glass apparently, as they have done,” O’Neill-Kaumo said.
The comment period began Sept. 7.
The proposal calls for a three-year lead time from publication of a final rule for manufacturers to meet the proposed requirements.
OOIDA opposes a government mandate on this issue, pointing to research that contradicts the fed’s claimed “safety benefits” of speed limiters, as it would force a speed differential between heavy trucks and other vehicles using the highways. That would lead to more vehicle interactions, unsafe maneuvering and crashes, a study of speed differentials shows.
OOIDA’s website, FightingForTruckers.com, has more information about the Association’s opposition to the mandate, as well as ways for truckers to contact their lawmakers and oppose a mandate. You can also file comments on the proposal here and here.
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