OOIDA to House Approps: Don't mandate speed limiters

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line associate editor | 10/18/2016

After making a similar request of the Senate, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is asking the House Appropriations committee to ditch language from an upcoming bill that would force a final rule mandating speed limiters.

The Association issued a letter on Oct. 17 to the committee’s chair, Rep. Hal Rogers, R-Ky., and ranking member Rep. Nita Lowey, D-N.Y. The letter also went to chairman of the subcommittee on Transportation, Housing and Urban Development Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart, R-Fla., and ranking subcommittee member Rep. David Price, D-N.C.

A provision is included in Section 142 of the Senate Amendment to the FY 2017 Military Construction, Veterans Affairs and Related Agencies Appropriations Act, that requires the Secretary of Transportation to issue a final rule mandating speed limiters. OOIDA’s full letter can be viewed here. The Association issued a similar letter to the Senate Appropriations committee on Sept. 21.

“Professional drivers have long opposed efforts to mandate the installation of speed limiters on heavy vehicles because research indicates the technology actually reduces safety for all highway users,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer wrote in the letter. “Truckers across the country encourage members of Congress to oppose the inclusion of Section 142 of the Senate amendment in any final appropriations measure funding the Department of Transportation through the remainder of the fiscal year.”

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.

On Sept. 7, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration published a notice of proposed rulemaking on the speed limiter issue.

The proposal has drawn criticism from OOIDA and other groups for failing to state how the proposal would decrease crashes overall. Additionally, by the agencies’ own admission, the proposed rule would have an overwhelmingly negative benefit on small-business truckers and owner-operators. Spencer noted that approximately 93 percent of all trucks on the road are operated by small businesses, which maintain 20 or fewer vehicles.

“Forcing the agencies’ hand in issuing a mandate without fully considering these consequences would disregard the very serious threat this rule poses to the livelihood and survival of countless small-businesses, which comprise an overwhelmingly large portion of the trucking industry,” he wrote.

The 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. The American Trucking Associations is also calling for a 30-day extension on the comment period.

In the letter, Spencer notes that mandating the installation of speed limiters, as prescribed by the bill, “ignores important regulatory reform provisions” in the latest highway bill, the Fixing America’s Surface Transportation Act, or FAST Act.

The proposed rule argues that speed limiters will reduce the severity of large truck crashes, leading to fewer fatalities and serious injuries. However, OOIDA argues that the number of crashes would actually increase as the speed differential between large trucks and other motorists would lead to more vehicle interactions and unsafe maneuvering.

Spencer wrote that in addition to their concerns about implementing a mandate via legislation instead of through the regulatory process, independent drivers are “equally concerned about the lack of understanding surrounding this proposal and its true impact on our nation.”

“We believe enhanced congressional oversight of this issue would help elected officials and the American public better understand the real dangers associated with speed limiters, including increasedcrash rates, greater highway congestion, and the loss of vital small businesses,” he wrote.

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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