Overdrive Staff | February 01, 2011

— Jill Dunn

Speed limiter rule to be considered in 2012

More than four years after the trucking industry asked the federal government to mandate speed limiters on new heavy-duty trucks, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced it will launch a rulemaking on the issue in 2012.

Two petitions propose installing devices that would cap truck speeds at 68 mph.

In August, senior officials of NHTSA and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration told proponents of speed limiters they anticipated making a formal decision on launching a rulemaking by the end of 2010.

According to a notice published in the Federal Register, NHTSA is granting two separate petitions for rulemaking filed in 2006 — one by the American Trucking Associations and the other by safety group Road Safe America along with nine trucking companies — Schneider National, C.R. England, H.O. Wolding, ATS Intermodal, Dart Transit, J.B. Hunt, U.S. Xpress, Covenant Transport and Jet Express.

Both petitions proposed installation of devices on new trucks that would limit top speed to 68 mph on trucks with gross vehicle weight ratings (GVWR) greater than 26,000 pounds. The major difference between the petitions is that Road Safe America and its nine carrier allies also want speed limiters mandated on all trucks built after 1990.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is opposed, however. “Speed limiting a truck at 68 miles per hour, or at any other speed, will not improve highway safety,” said Todd Spencer, executive vice president.

A study by the University of Arkansas showed that speed limit differences between trucks and cars create more dangerous interactions, OOIDA noted in a news release. Also, a study by the University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute shows that speed-limited trucks are overrepresented in rear-end fatalities involving large trucks. Only 4 percent of all trucks are speed limited, yet half of the rear-end fatalities involving trucks were with speed-limited trucks, the association says.

NHTSA’s notice granting the petitions does not explain why it won’t begin the rulemaking for more than a year. The notice does mention, however, that NHTSA expects FMCSA to publish findings of a study on the safety impact and associated economic benefits of speed limiters in commercial vehicles.

More information on the petitions for rulemaking and comments on those petitions are available at www.regulations.gov by searching NHTSA-2007-26851.

– Avery Vise

Speeding tops safety violations

The top three reasons warnings and citations were issued to both commercial and non-commercial drivers include speeding, failing to use a safety belt and failure to obey traffic control devices, according to the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance’s Operation Safe Driver campaign.

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