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ATA Doesn’t Support Speed Limiter Rule as Currently Proposed

The US Dept. of Transportation asked for public input to determine the setting in the proposed heavy-duty truck speed limiter mandate, with a majority of fleets favouring 65 mph, reports Fleet Owner. Many carriers also urged the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to make the rule applicable to as many trucks as possible – not just to trucks built after the rule takes effect.

The American Trucking Assns., which had petitioned the government to come up with a mandate, supports a national speed limit of 65 mph for all vehicles and tamperproof speed limiters for all heavy-duty trucks made after 1992. But the proposed rule comes nowhere close to meeting those targets, the trade group explains.

ATA’s comment points to a number of shortcomings:

  • The rule calls for speed limiters to be required only on new vehicles, and would not require tamperproofing;
  • The lack of a national speed limit would result in “wide divergences” in speed between trucks and other traffic; and
  • The agencies propose three speed options, with “insufficient evidence” to justify a particular choice.

“Given these deficiencies, ATA cannot support the proposed rulemaking, absent additional data and research demonstrating that it would not create new safety hazards that might outweigh any safety benefits anticipated by the agencies,” ATA writes.

ATA also mentions the proposal’s lack of consideration for emerging technologies “that may soon render speed limiters obsolete, by addressing the same concerns without creating the potential risks of the proposed rule,” and notes the agencies admit that they currently have insufficient information from which to draw reasonable conclusions.

ATA also faults DOT for failing to conduct any new research—despite having 10 years to do so—and instead relying on existing and aging studies that doesn’t address many of the key issues. And, ATA concludes, without a more substantial proposal, the agencies are statutorily prohibited from moving forward.

“In short, the NPRM leaves too many important questions unanswered—questions that the agencies cannot simply shrug their collective shoulders at,” ATA says. “Without such additional information, ATA and other members of the public are not in a position to comment meaningfully on the proposal.”

The Truckload Carrier Assn.’s speed limiter policy mirrors that of ATA, and TCA’s comment first addresses the proposal’s “ambiguous” speed limit options, reports Fleet Owner.

TCA recognizes that the speed question has “multiple answers and opinions,” as TCA’s motor carrier members have programs set at speeds that reflect their operational needs as well as the geography where trucks travel, the group notes.

“Ultimately, the success and/or failure of this rule will inevitably be determined by which speed the agencies ultimately deem an acceptable level of speed limitation,” TCA writes. “Our members’ decision to develop a policy that calls for limiting speeds at 65 mph is representative of an overall speed in which our members have deemed this as an acceptable level in which to regulate.”

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