Bipartisan Senate Bill Could Revive Truck Speed Limiter Rule

Two Senators have proposed a bill that would require all trucks currently outfitted with speed limiters to activate the devices with a maximum speed of 65 mph. The Department of Transportation had been scheduled to propose a rule on limiters by September 2017 but was ordered to halt the process by President Trump during his first days in office. 

Sen. Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Sen. Chris Coon (D-DE) filed the legislation on June 27 in the Senate’s Commerce, Science and Transportation Committee. It would require all new class 7 and class 8 vehicles to be equipped with speed limiters set at 65 mph, as well as existing trucks with speed limiting capabilities to have the same cap.

The new bill does not require older trucks to be retrofitted with the technology. 

“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built-in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” said Isakson. “This legislation would officially enforce a long-awaited speed limit of 65 mph on large trucks and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways.”

The bill is supported by many highway-safety advocacy groups, including Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Trucking Alliance, the Truckload Carriers Association, and the Truck Safety Coalition.

According to preliminary data from the DMV, there were more than 20,000 accidents involving large trucks in New York in 2018. Almost 900 involved speeding. Unsafe speed was the third-most common factor in fatal truck accidents.

Read more: Large truck accidents in NYS data

“[T]here is no reason for an 80,000-pound tractor-trailer to operate at 70 mph or greater on our highways,” said Lane Kidd, managing director of the Trucking Alliance. 

The American Trucking Associations has long opposed mandating speed limiters in the U.S. despite their widespread usage elsewhere in the world. In 2016, CEO Chris Spear decried any such rule as “dangerous,” citing a lack of evidence to support it. He also warned about the potential for speed differentials in many parts of the country where highway speed limits are much higher than the proposed limit for large trucks.
Should the rule take effect, an often-overlooked benefit would be the reduced risk of a New York State speeding ticket for CDL drivers. Two tickets for driving 15 mph over the limit can result in a suspension of one’s commercial license. However, with a maximum possible speed of 65 mph, truckers would be unable to go more than 10 mph over the limit on highways (local roads would be another matter). Less than 2% of speeding tickets are for going less than 11 mph over the limit.

Tracy Morgan Accident Prompts Debate Over CDL Trucking Rules

The federal transportation safety investigators revealed that a Wal-Mart truck driver was speeding immediately prior to careening into a limousine, killing a man and seriously injuring Tracy Morgan, the famous comedian.

Right before the crash, the truck driver was reportedly travelling 65 mph in a 45 mph zone.

This incident highlights the difficult balance between allowing truckers to work long hours and how doing so impacts the safety and health of the trucker as well as other motorists.

The driver had been on the job for approximately 13 1/2 hours at the time of the crash. The law on the books only allows a truck driver to work a maximum of 14 hours in a day and only 11 hours behind the wheel.

Had the driver reached his intended destination, he would have been slightly over the 14-hour limit (presuming he would have been going the speed limit).

Currently, the Senate is considering passing a resolution that would expand the maximum work period for truck drivers to 80 hours per week.

However, as a result of this tragic incident, the Teamsters Union pushed Congress not to ease the laws limiting truck drivers from working 60-70 hours per week.

The President of the Teamsters, James P. Hoffa, noted, “The NTSB’s preliminary findings in this case clearly show that truck drivers are pushing beyond the limits of the current hours of service rules.”

Apparently, the driver had not slept in 24 hours before the crash.

No one can tell whether the Senate resolution will pass, let alone become law. However, one thing is for sure: as this nationwide debate rages on, it is crucial for you to remember the importance of driving safely and the frightening ramifications of failing to do so.

Remember, a truck driver is a CDL (commercial driver’s license) holder and the penalties are dire for speeding when you have a CDL. Do not let fatigue or very long hours lead to a speeding ticket or a suspended license.

New 70 Hour Work Week Limit for CDL Drivers

Woman Truck driver and her sonRecently, new regulations overhauled the rules governing truck-driving hours. They shorten the workweek, limit how many nights a truck driver can be on the road, and require truckers to take a certain amount of rest breaks during the day.

The Obama administration believes that these regulations will reduce crashes from sleep-deprived CDL drivers getting behind the wheel. The new regulations would cap a truck driver’s average workweek at 70 hours, a 12 hour decrease from the previous maximum limit of 82.

Many CDL drivers and trucking companies have not been pleased by these new rules. They contend that this is going to cost them serious money.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration plans to enforce the regulations by routinely checking work logs, which CDL drivers are required to keep.

Failure to comply with the new rules could result in fines of up to $11,000 for companies and $2,750 for individual CDL drivers per offense.

One trucker who has been driving a big rig all his life remarked, “It’s hard … they have no clue what they’re doing.” He noted that the new rules will hurt him and do not help him because he will be losing out on 12 hours worth of pay per week.

However, the Transportation Department says 3,887 people were killed in 2012 in crashes involving large trucks and one study revealed that roughly 13% of large-truck crashes involve a sleep-deprived driver.

Although truck-crash fatality numbers have been trending down over the past decade due to new technologies, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) explained that fatigue-related crashes are still far too prevalent. These newest rules aim to reduce crashes while minimizing the impact on the industry.

With mounting criticism about the reduction in income looming in the background, Anne Ferro, chief of the FMCSA said, “My mission is to save lives.”

Despite all of the concern from CDL drivers, the government noted that only 15% of the nation’s 1.55 million long-haul truckers would be affected since most do not have routes that require such long hours and unionized truckers already have a shorter workweek.


NY Traffic Tickets With Commercial Driver License (CDL)

Truck drivers (CDL license holders) can lose their license by receiving more then 3 serious traffic violation in a 3 year period.

A Commercial Driver License (CDL) is required by New York State to drive a vehicle weighing over 26,000 pounds, vehicles accommodating 15 or more passengers, including buses, and any vehicle used to transport hazardous material.

A CDL is only necessary when the above types of vehicles are used for a commercial or business purpose, and not a personal purpose.  For example, that is why a CDL is not required in order to drive a big U-Haul truck loaded with your personal belongings. Continue reading “NY Traffic Tickets With Commercial Driver License (CDL)”