‘Way too much way too fast’: Truckers weigh in early on proposed speed limiter rule, other regs

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View-through-window-on-highwayThe Department of Transportation published its proposed rule that would require trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiting devices just two weeks ago, on Sept. 7, to solicit comments from the trucking industry. There have already been nearly 2,000 such comments submitted to the publicly available docket.

The proposal didn’t specify a speed to which trucks would be governed, but the DOT appeared to be leaning toward either a 60, 65 or 68 mph cap.

Of the nearly 2,000 comments posted so far, the vast majority are from truckers in opposition to a speed limiter rulemaking. To file a comment of your own, visit OverdriveOnline.com/speedrule, which goes directly to the rule’s Regulations.gov comment page. Or mail written comments to:

Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of Transportation
1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140
Washington, DC 20590-0001

The comment period is open through Nov. 7. However, the American Trucking Associations has filed for a 30-day extension, and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has filed for a 60-day extension.

Some of the comments from the first two weeks of the comment period follow, and for Overdrive readers’ responses via our podcast voicemail line (530-408-6423), hear the latest round-up of commentary at the head of the Mailbag playlist above or via the player below:

“I think the speed limiters on trucks are a bad idea. The reason being, you are going to have a truck that weighs 80,000 pounds, running 68 mph. Then you have someone in a passenger car running 70-80 mph. In this world of distracted driving, the car is going to have a much faster closing rate on the truck. I feel that trucks running anywhere from 5-15 mph slower than cars will increase the accident rate, and possibly the fatality rate of people in passenger cars.” –Brian Weaver

“This proposal would make driving even more dangerous and challenging. Especially in heavy traffic. The only way to make it not as dangerous and challenging would be to slow everyone down. Passenger vehicles outnumber trucks on the road most of the day. Maybe look at the amount of truck-related accidents at night when the number of trucks are greater than cars. The other point I would like to share is that a truck or any other vehicle is only going to be as safe as the driver behind the wheel. No matter how many rules and regulations you pass.” –Gabriel Edwards

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“In an already heavily regulated industry, speed limiters would kill off small companies and owner operators. Right now their only edge over big box companies is the ability to pull “hot” freight. That have to have right now freight that small companies and owner operators can get done will be sitting on docks unmoved or late to the customer. This limiter will cause a detrimental ripple through an already toppling industry. This will contribute to the collapse of parts of our industry.” –Brittany Hamstreet, Sacramento, Calif.

“…the proposed rule will hurt small business motor carriers, who rely on their ability to ‘outrun’ the larger carriers’ governed trucks and move freight faster, to support the higher freight rates that enable them to compete with the large carriers that use their bulk purchasing power to save on their costs of doing business. A truck that can cross Nebraska, for example, at the 75 mph posted speed limit, can traverse the Lincoln-Cheyenne stretch of I-80 in 6 hours. A truck governed at 65 mph will take 7 hours to travel that distance. Multiply that one hour of productivity by 7 days, and at a rate of $2.00/mile for general freight and a speed of 75 mph, the business without the speed limiter can earn an extra $1,050 per week of revenue, legally and safely. Few small businesses can afford to lose $50,000 of revenue per truck per year.” –Jeffrey Lanthripp

“I am an 18-year veteran safe driver. For a good portion of that 18 years I have been driving a governed truck. Most of the trucks have been governed at anywhere from 65 to 70 mph. Although, I am in favor of some kind of a limit on truck speed. In other words I do not believe heavy trucks should be able to speed down the highway at 80 mph plus. That being said, I think it is ludicrous to suggest that all trucks should be limited to 60 or 65 mph. I believe this would cause rolling roadblocks all over the nation’s highways. I currently drive a 67 mph truck and at times it can be very frustrating when you cannot create separation with other trucks going around the same speed. The only thing that makes this situation bearable is that at least a significant amount of trucks are not going the same speed, so the impact is at least mitigated. Although I am in favor of some kind of speed limiter rule, I believe something in the 70 mph range is much more reasonable. This way trucks and trucking companies will have some room for variance in the speeds they set. If the rule is 60 or 65, then most trucks will be in that same range. This is just my professional opinion.” –Sean O’Donnell, Delanco, N.J.

“You have to look at the whole picture. We have been hit by the 14-hour rule, now ELDs, and now we will be subject to slow speeds as well. Look at the unintended safety issues. This most will miss completely. Tires. If the tire companies know that this truck will never exceed 60 mph the quality will go down in flames. As it is now, when a company builds a tire they expect it may run at 75 mph at 80,000 pounds. This is the standard. The tire will be built to exceed that. But otherwise they will blow into a million tiny parts all over the roads. With cheap imports from China this will almost take effect faster than the ink can dry on the paper. It’s way too much way [too] fast.” –Art Wade, Grand Junction, Colo.

“While i am not opposed to the idea, as a driver I think limiting trucks to 65 mph is the absolute slowest speed that should be considered. That said you need to [first] consider who and what causes most accidents. Once you discover that truck drivers are not at fault in most cases you can then move to do something meaningful and intelligent instead of stupid.” –Ray Pfeiffer

“In the most regulated industry on the road or most anywhere, we have another ruling coming our way to drive out veteran drivers and owner-operators like myself. Although I normally drive under 65 or at 65, there are times when I have to accelerate beyond that to get out of potentially hazardous situations. This rule would not only take that away, but it will have trucks going slower than cars and that difference in traffic flow creates many hazards in itself. Not a very well thought out plan. It seems as if special interests are getting their way again.” –Carmen Papa, Hannibal, N.Y.

“I drive truck in Canada that has a speed limiter law and I find it very bad and unsafe. Trucks now travel side by side for many miles because they can not complete the pass due to hills and weight causing very long car and truck backups. A lot of trucks that were built in 1996, and older, are unable to put speed limiters on because of wiring and computer problems. I have also experienced that with this speed limiter law that trucks can not speed up to get out of the way of traffic so they must slow down, which causes a much more unsafe environment.” –John Vanderlinden, Ontario, Canada

“If you’re going to implement a speed limit, 68 should be the speed to go. Anything slower than that causes major backups and makes four-wheelers fly around like they’re crazy. This is why states have changed the split speed limit to the same speed for all and you’re going to make it that way across the USA. All vehicles should be traveling at the same speed, period.” –Christopher Clarke, Dubuque, Iowa

“We do not need speed limiters, we need driver training. These big companies want these little 1- or 2-truck carriers to go out of business. They say ‘we need to level the playing field.’ I say if they want to level the playing field, how about if I as an independent leased to a small company could purchase a truck, trailer, tires, insurance and fuel at the same price they do, then maybe we can have a level playing field. With their fuel discounts, tire discounts and truck discounts. Their cost of doing business per truck is way less then mine.” –Alvie Schreckhise, Bucklin, Mo.

“I believe the speed limiters are not needed and will be costly to my 2-truck company. I have old trucks and run regionally in the Pacific Northwest, and it is too costly to upgrade equipment and expensive to modify what I have. I have seen times when some of the large companies’ governed trucks were more of a hazard to the traveling public than the nongoverned are. Accidents can happen at any speed, and cars running much faster than the trucks cause a lot of them.” –Patrick Kane, Tekoa, Wash.

“I would like to see a thorough and comprehensive study done by an independent and unbiased company regarding the true benefits of speed-restricting all trucks. As well, I think the general driving public ought to be involved and informed, with the full understanding of how much of a congested cluster this is going to be if enacted. This is obviously being promoted and prompted by mega carriers in order to get everyone on an even playing field; it has nothing to do with safety.” –Mike Meder, Chesaning, Mich.

“I am an owner-operator, just one truck in my small business operations. I don’t see any safety benefit whatsoever to having speed limiters. Most of the time I’m already driving at or below posted highway speed (usually set the cruise at 64). Having no speed limiter with a higher horsepower truck I’m able to pass safely when I have to, able to enter/exit freeways when I have to.” –Matt Stark

While most commenters were opposed to the rule, there were a few that supported it:

“Why do you continue to drag your feet on this rule? The safety benefits have already been proven by the Canadians and speed limiters have been on heavy trucks for at least 20 years. It takes all of 30 seconds to set the maximum speed on any truck built after 1990. The implementation of this rule is no different than the ELD mandate. The bigger, more well run companies already have this done. Bring the rest of the world into compliance and do away with these people who would run at excessive speeds down the highway with paper logs.” –Rick Johnson, Springfield, Mo.

“There is no question that speed limiting will save lives, save an enormous amount of fuel and save wear and tear on trucks and lower tire cost for truckers. It is likely to increase driver earnings as many trucking companies pass a portion of driver created savings to the driver. However the owner-operator will realize all of the aforementioned savings – it’s a huge win for the operator.” Fred Ege

“As a Class A CDL holder over the last several years I have witnessed a dramatic increase in the speeds driven on our highways, not only by cars but by large and medium size trucks…. As you (the FMCSA) and I both know, trucks are not the same as cars regarding weight, stopping distances, emergency handling capabilities and many other factors…The semi truck I operate every workday has a maximum speed limiter set at 63 mph. I believe a maximum speed of 65 mph would be appropriate and prudent given that speed limits on a lot of interstates is currently 70 mph. From my experience, a top speed of 65 mph is sufficient to move along with traffic, in appropriate areas, without too much stress. In my opinion, 40 tons shouldn’t be moving down any highway faster than 65 mph for the sake of all lives nearby.” –Robert Anderson

“This is an excellent idea! The company I work for already limits our trucks to 60 mph and it serves us well. Please set the speed limit for trucks at 60 mph. Thanks!” –Cole Fleming