Petition: Speed-limiting devices on trucks make highways less safe

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 8/10/2015

OOIDA has drafted an online petition that urges lawmakers and the public to reject a proposed mandate for speed limiters on commercial trucks. The petition is easy for trucking members and non-members alike to let folks know that a mandate would force an unsafe speed differential among cars and trucks and lead to more vehicle interactions on the highways.

The timing is important as Congress drafts and debates a transportation bill that covers motor carrier safety and with a regulatory notice of proposed rulemaking on the verge of advancing to the White House for review.

Two federal agencies – the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, which regulates new vehicles, and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, which regulates carriers and CMVs engaged in interstate commerce – are pursuing a joint rulemaking in response to a 2006 petition from the American Trucking Associations and Roadsafe America to require speed limiters on all commercial trucks.

Their notice of proposed rulemaking is projected to clear the White House Office of Management and Budget on or about Aug. 17. Once (and if) it clears OMB, the proposal would be published in the Federal Register. Publication of a notice does not make the action a final rule, but it does allow stakeholders to view the language.

Fortunately, OOIDA has made it easy for trucking members and non-members alike to share their thoughts on the proposal via the petition posted on the Association’s website.

Visitors to the site can click on the “Calls to Action” tab and then “Federal Calls to Action” to access the speed limiter petition. Clicking on the link to sign the petition opens a window to allow the user to enter information and send the petition to the user’s lawmakers.

“As professional truck drivers, we write to warn the public and officials about the dangers of mandating speed-limiting devices on commercial trucks,” the letter states. “We ask that you fully consider and evaluate all the potential negative consequences before supporting a mandate that would require all trucks to be equipped with these devices. Our opposition to speed limiters is based upon our experience as truck driving professionals with millions of safe, accident-free miles behind the wheel.”

“… speed limiters will not address any of the safety challenges that come with driving on the lower speed roads where most crashes do occur,” OOIDA’s petition states. “Improving truck driver training and ensuring that law enforcement tickets passenger car drivers who operate unsafely around commercial trucks is the only way to improve safety in these situations.”

OOIDA cites independent data and research that shows speed differentials among cars and trucks make the highways less safe than if vehicles travel at uniform speeds.

An FMCSA study that initially was inconclusive about the safety benefits of a speed-limiter mandate was later changed to show a “strong safety benefit” after the data was rearranged. That study compared safety records of a small number of trucks equipped with speed limiters and a small number of trucks that ran without speed limiters.

OOIDA and Land Line Magazine research has also found that some of the mega fleets that push for mandatory speed limiters do not have the best safety records on the highways. OOIDA views their push to mandate speed limiters on the rest of trucking as a measure to bring the competition down to their level.

“Mandating speed limiters and/or setting differential speed limits may seem like a positive safety action, but in our professional safety judgment it is a negative safety step backward,” the Association states in the petition.

“We truly have safety as our No. 1 priority as we travel from state to state delivering goods. Our own lives and livelihoods depend on our attention to everything around, and we have every reason to stay safe and keep others safe with whom we share the roads.”

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