Speed-Limiting Device Mandates

speed-limiting device mandates

The feds are currently talking about speed-limiting device mandates but support for these requirements is divided across the industry. There are roughly 13.5 million trucks that make their way over American highways and byways every day. From long-haul truckloads to flatbeds, less-than-truckload and on down, they move more than 70 percent of the nation’s freight every year. Disruptions to that daily pace can lead to big issues throughout the supply chain. So, it comes as no surprise that as the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) looks to impose speed-limiting device mandates on commercial trucks, there’s pushback.

Support and Opposition to Speed-Limiting Device Mandates 

The FMCSA says it is attempting to lower speed limits in an effort to reduce large truck crash fatalities. In 2022, nearly 5,400 people died in accidents involving large trucks, and another 76,000-plus received injuries from accidents related to large trucks. Opponents say that lowering speed limits will have no impact on those numbers, and that it would negatively impact the supply chain.

FMSCA’s initial proposal was to bring the top speed of trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds down to 68 mph, but it later pulled back on that top speed, leaving a firm number blank. However, the agency is expected to issue a new number on Dec. 29.

One of the largest groups opposing the speed limits is the owner-Operator Independent Drives Association (OOIDA), which represents 150,000 members.. The most controversial portion of the ruling is the FMCSA’s suggestion that the trucks use speed-limiting devices on commercial motor vehicles. OOIDA opposes mandating speed limiters for any speed. The organization claims that states need to set their own speed limits, and, that speed differentials can pose dangers, as well as create unnecessary congestion.

In the meantime, a bill in the House and Senate—called the DRIVE Act—would prevent FMCSA from imposing speed limiters on trucks. There are 27 co-sponsors in both houses of Congress and OOIDA is a strong supporter. In addition to truck drivers, several industry associations have lined up in support of the DRIVE Act and against the FMCSA’s proposed rule. These include the American Farm Bureau Federation, National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and the Western States Trucking Association.

Coming out in support of speed-limiting device mandates is the American Trucking Associations (ATA). While the group used to be vocal opponents of the devices, they’ve about faced and now support speed limiters. Part of the organization’s changing tune is attributable to where the limits the devices would be set. Earlier suggestions by FMCSA had been 60 miles per hour; the ATA opposed that number but supports 70 miles per hour limits. Now ATA says that speed differentials between commercial trucks and passenger vehicles, increasing interstate speed limits, and improving emergency braking all mean a 70 mph limit makes sense for roadway safety.

If the FMCSA releases a supplemental rule on Dec. 29, another comment period will follow. Between that and the DRIVE Act, any sort of final decision on commercial trucking speed limits is likely some way off. It’s worth watching, however, and considering what impacts it might have on the speed of goods transport.