Notice of Intent

Not long ago, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration formulated a Notice of Intent (NOI) regarding the development of truck speed limiter rules. In fact, the agency announced that it will soon begin work on a new set of truck speed limit rules.

The discussion about speed limiters has been ongoing since the beginning of the Trump administration. In 2016, FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration released a joint draft rule that considered speed limits for trucks of up to 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour.

The FMCSA’s rationale for bringing these devices into service is that speed is an important factor in fatal accidents. So speed management is, therefore, the main tool for reducing the risk of serious injuries and fatalities.

It appears that a necessary means of achieving compliance with the speed limit requirement would be the use of an ECU to control vehicle speed, which is more likely than the installation of mechanical means to do so.

Likewise, there is a trucking industry perception that speed limits on highways for large trucks can lead to a potential increase in accidents because, dangerous speed differentials between vehicles. Motorists should be aware that when they get stuck behind trucks on long stretches of highway, the speed of those trucks is often limited well below the posted speed limit.

So far we have very little specifics and it is well understood only that this is the beginning of a very long process. At this point, there is no maximum speed limit and no clear timeline for the introduction of these devices.

This Notice Of Intent should be seen as the beginning of collecting data from fleets about their experience of speed limiters usage.

ATA position

At the same time, ATA opposes attempts by anti-truck organizations to push for a speed limit rule setting speed limits at 60 miles per hour. Anti-truck advocates tried to include this in the recently passed bipartisan Infrastructure Act, but ATA successfully struggled to keep these provisions out of the final bill.

ATA’s official policy maintains a maximum posted speed of 70 MPH for trucks equipped with adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency braking. For trucks not equipped with these features, our policy maintains a maximum posted speed of 65 MPH. 

This policy is determined by ATA member companies. For speed limiters, it was last reviewed and voted on in 2019 by the Safety Policy Committee, made up of 120 small, medium and large carriers. HMD Trucking (https://www.hmdtrucking.com/) as well as other carriers are very concerned about the development of this process.

Before this update, the policy called for a maximum speed of 65 MPH. But technology, new data, and safety concerns have made this policy obsolete. Factors such as the speed differential between passenger vehicles and trucks, the rapid increase in speed limits on interstate roads across the country, and the advent of forward collision mitigation technology, automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control have changed the discussion. Our concerns related to rear-end collisions between cars and trucks and how differences in speed contribute to these collisions.The result was our revised 70 MPH policy.

What happens next

There is a 30-day comment period for NOI after which the agency will conduct a review. After that, FMCSA will need to prepare a Supplemental Notice of Proposed Rulemaking – a more in-depth proposition with specific speed and timing parameters for implementation. This proposal is not expected to appear until the beginning of 2023. Then another comment period will follow.

ATA promises to remain actively involved at every stage of this process, presenting comments and encouraging regulators to take a reasonable, data-driven approach. Their involvement is critical. While other groups muddy the rulemaking process, ATA’s strategic involvement ensures that they can impact on the final result.

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