- The U.S. Department of Transportation has received nearly 3,000 (mostly negative) comments in response to its proposed rule to mandate speed limiting devices on heavy trucks, Overdrive reported last week.
- The federal department proposed the rule last month in support of highway safety, suggesting mandatory speed governors, set at 60, 65, or 68 mph, for trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds. Truckers and trucking associations reacted swiftly in opposition, as reflected by the comments.
- “My opinion is that nothing is safer than a well-rested, well trained professional truck driver," says one of the comments on the docket. "As a one truck independent owner operator with several million safe miles, I am well able to select a speed which is the safest and most efficient for my operation."
The speed-limiter rule is widely unpopular for a variety of reasons, at the crux of which is a feeling that the regulation appears to unfairly target truckers to fix a shared highway safety problem.
Various of the comments reflect that anything below 70 mph is too slow since the safest driving conditions are when all vehicles travel at the same speed. Placing the limiters on trucks but not on other cars would, in turn, make highways more dangerous as it would force more vehicles to speed up or change lanes to pass the truckers while the latter remain unable to do the same.
Second, the speed limiter proposal does not take into account differences in state speed limits, which if the rule passed, would at worst force truckers to travel 15 mph below the speed limit while many non-truck drivers still drive over the speed limit. Limiting driving speed this way would have indirect effects on the whole supply chain as lead times would necessarily increase.
Third, the rule follows a somewhat controversial electronic logging device rule, which has been legally fought by the Owner Operators Independent Drivers Association for over a year. The speed limiter rule, therefore, adds insult to injury.
In defense of the rule, the Department of Transportation recently announced an initiative to end roadway fatalities in the U.S. within the next 30 years. Yet, last year marked the largest increase in traffic deaths since 1966, according to the department, and truck-related incidents rose by 4.1% compared to the previous period.
It is important to note many of the comments are not inherently opposed to speed limiters as a rule, but rather the unfair application of such, which would increase the speed gap between truckers and non-truckers.