A much debated proposal was finally brought to the White House by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) that would require large commercial vehicles to be equipped with speed limiting devices. The agencies believe the limiters would help save lives and increase safety; however, not everyone agrees. Some owner operators say they’d be more dangerous, leading to more crashes and promote road rage from other motorists.

The Proposed Rule

The FMCSA and the NHTSA are of the opinion that limiting the speed of large vehicles will reduce the number of fatalities and injuries that result from collisions. Limiting the speed at which large vehicles travel also increases the ability of the vehicles’ safety features and highway safeguards to protect drivers, passengers and bystanders.

The proposal does not impose mandatory systems to prevent tampering with speed limiting devices, nor does it specify whether new processes should be put in place to restrict individuals from adjusting the speed setting manually, at their own discretion.

The agencies are currently seeking public commentary and suggestions on the proposal, but are specifically seeking input regarding:

Options that would lower implementation costs for the proposal;

Whether a three-year, phased-in implementation timeline for manufacturers is adequate; and

Whether the final rule should be retroactive and require large vehicles that are currently in operation to be retrofitted with speed limiting devices. Though the agencies are considering a retroactive provision for the final rule, the provision was not included in the proposal due to the technical feasibility of implementation, the costs, the enforcement considerations and the impact it may have on small businesses.

Affected Vehicles

The proposed rule would affect only large vehicles. Large vehicles, for purposes of this rule, would include multipurpose passenger vehicles, trucks, buses and school buses with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds (11,793.4 kilograms).

As proposed, the rule would require commercial motor vehicle manufacturers to install speed limiting devices and set the speed limit for new vehicles only.

Speed Limiting Devices

Under the proposed rule, speed limiting devices would need to be set at a speed limit pre-determined by the final rule. The proposed rule does not currently include a proposed speed maximum, but suggests that the agencies have been looking at either a 65 or 68 mph limit.

The proposal would also require speed limiting devices to allow inspectors to read their current speed limit settings, as well as the two previous settings, including the time and date when the settings were changed through a vehicle’s on-boarding diagnostic connection.

Finally, motor carriers that operate affected vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle.