Feds to try again with speed limiters for heavy trucks

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 9/11/2013

A U.S. federal agency plans to resubmit a proposal later this fall on behalf of petitioners who want commercial trucks governed at 68 mph. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration intends to try again to deliver a notice of proposed rulemaking to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation in November on behalf of the ATA and Roadsafe America.

The American Trucking Associations and Roadsafe America, a safety group, first petitioned NHTSA in 2005 to generate a rulemaking that would cap the road speed of trucks weighing 26,000 pounds or more at 68 mph.

NHTSA granted the petition five years later in March 2011 to pursue a notice of proposed rulemaking, a necessary step in the development of a rule or rule change.

The agency, along with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, drafted a notice of proposed rulemaking and submitted it to the Office of the Secretary of Transportation on March 4 of this year.

Just a few weeks later, and without a publicly stated reason, the Office of the Secretary, or OST for short, punted the proposal back to NHTSA, on April 18.

The agency initially indicated it would resubmit a revamped proposal to OST by July, but that time frame came and went.

The latest indication from NHTSA is that the agency hopes to resubmit the notice of proposed rulemaking to OST on or about Nov. 20.

As with any proposal in the regulatory pipeline, the date is an intended target and not a firm deadline.

NHTSA believes speed limiters will reduce crashes on highways that have a posted speed limit of 55 mph or above.

OOIDA opposes an industry wide mandate for speed limiters and rejects the safety claims made by the agency and the petitioners. The Association believes that the safest speeds are uniform speeds and that differentials among vehicles create more interaction and unsafe maneuvering.

In addition to fighting against the U.S. proposal, OOIDA is funding a constitutional challenge of a speed-limiter law in Ontario, Canada.

Barbara Michaud, wife of the late Gene Michaud, an OOIDA member, is scheduled to appear in an Ontario appeals court on Sept. 17. A lower court in Gene’s case ruled that speed limiters violated his right to personal safety on the roadways.

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