Although the American Trucking Associations asked the federal government in 2006 to mandate speed limiters, the group has decided that the regulations proposed in September are unacceptable as written. In essence, ATA argues that the notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) is contrary to the pro-safety goals expressed in the 2006 petition, which proposed tamper-resistant speed limiters set at 68 mph on all new trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating (GWVR) of more than 26,000 pounds.
"Despite ATA's decade-old, pro-safety policy on speed, the new joint rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) proposes a menu of three speed options for commercial trucks, not one," said ATA President Chris Spear in a statement. "It provides insufficient data, and fails to make a recommendation regarding which of the three proposed speeds it believes is best and why."
Spear said that "most disconcerting" was the fact that the proposed rule does not address the differentials in speed that would exist between any of the three proposed national speed limits for trucks and the speed laws in some states. "This lack of data and direction only elevates the safety risks to the motoring public," Spear said.
Indeed, a TransComply analysis of current and historical data compiled by the Governors Highway Safety Association confirms that since ATA filed its petition 11 states have raised speed limits on rural interstates. Although four states also discarded differential speed limits in their states, speed limiters would, in effect, reinstate those differentials regardless of what the state laws say.
“A mandate for a one-size-fits-all speed limiter will squelch innovation in technologies to enhance safety and accommodate not only highways, but potentially secondary roads and beyond," Spear said.
Comments on the NHTSA/FMCSA proposal currently are due November 7. In September, ATA asked for 30 more days to allow it to gather member views and data. "ATA will then prepare its formal comments, fully illustrating the flaws of this proposed rulemaking, which we will not support as currently drafted.”
One of the most vocal opponents of speed limiters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, has asked for a 60-day extension of the comment period. Aside from the safety concerns raised, NHTSA and FMCSA essentially conceded in the NPRM that the proposed speed limiter rule likely would have a substantial negative impact on small carriers.
Although the current comment period is more than a month away, thousands of comments have been filed, mostly opposing the proposal.