SPEED LIMITERS: OOIDA to Senate Approps: Don't force final rule on speed limiters

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 9/23/2016

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking the Senate Appropriations committee to ditch language from an upcoming bill that would force a final rule mandating speed limiters.

The Association issued a letter on Sept. 21 to the committee’s chairs, Sens. Thad Cochran, R-Miss., Susan Collins, R-Maine; and its vice-chair, Sen. Barbara Mikulski, D-Md.; and ranking committee member Sen. Jack Reed, D.-R.I.

The letter asks the committee not to include language from the Senate-passed Fiscal Year 2017 Department of Transportation, Housing & Urban Development Appropriations Act, which requires the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final rule mandating the use of speed-limiting devices on trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, as part of the provisions for a short-term continuing resolution.

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.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are moving forward with a joint notice of proposed rulemaking that would require speed limiters be installed in every new vehicle weighing 26,000 pounds or more. A 60-day comment period on the proposal began Sept. 7. Various industry groups have raised alarm at the proposal, with OOIDA filing a formal request for an additional 60-day comment period.

In the letter, OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer notes that mandating the installation of speed limiters, as prescribed by Section 142 of the Senate THUD bill, “ignores important regulatory reform provisions” in the latest highway bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act.

“Unfortunately, the language included in Section 142 of the Senate THUD bill would force the agencies’ hand in issuing a final rule that mandates the use of this technology, ignoring the sacrosanct ability of industry stakeholders to help shape the regulations affecting them through the traditional federal rulemaking process,” Spencer wrote.

The letter reiterates another of OOIDA’s key complaints related to a speed limiter mandate – that the purported safety benefits of speed limiters can’t be substantiated by science.

“With selected data failing to support the preconceived safety benefits of speed limiters, the Agencies have solicited industry stakeholders to contribute a significant amount of information to help them better understand the potential impacts of the proposal,” Spencer wrote. “Due to the time needed to fulfill the Agencies’ request and the lack of clearly defined objectives within the proposal, industry has already requested an extension in the comment period. In light of these conditions, including the language of Section 142 in a Continuing Resolution or future federal spending measure would reverse the critical steps Congress recently took to promote a more informed and accountable rulemaking process.”

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