Feds Now Taking Public Comments on Proposed Truck Speed Limits

Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.
Photo courtesy Wikimedia Commons.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration are currently taking public comments on new rules limiting highway speeds for trucks, buses, and other large vehicles. The regulations, which were proposed on August 26, would require newly made U.S. vehicles that weigh more than 26,000 pounds to be outfitted with speed-limiting technology.

The proposal only applies to newly manufactured vehicles and will not require older vehicles to be retrofitted, although that could change. According to the NHTSA, retrofitting vehicles made after 1990 could cost anywhere from $100 to $2,000 per vehicle. Heavy vehicles made before 1990 cannot be upgraded to include electronic speed capping devices.

Regulators have not decided what the new speed limit will be, but are considering caps of 60, 65, or 68 mph. The government will take public comments for 60 days before determining the final details of the regulations. Both agencies hope that electronically limiting speeds will prevent some of the more than 1,100 fatal crashes involving heavy trucks that occur each year. The new regulations could also save up to $1 billion in fuel costs.

The idea of electronically limiting truck speeds was first championed in 2006 by the nonprofit organization Road Safe America. It has the support of the American Trucking Associations, the nation’s largest trucking industry group, as well as the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. The technology has been available on diesel trucks since the 1990s and is actively used in Europe, Australia, and Japan.

According to the NHTSA, limiting heavy vehicles to 60 mph could save as many as 498 lives each year. A 65 mph limit could save up to 214 lives, and limiting it to 68 mph could save as many as 96 lives. It is unclear if these figures are based on the assumption that all of the 3.8 million heavy vehicles on U.S. roadways will be subject to that limit or just some.

Limiting trucks speeds could reduce other kinds of accident risks. Last year, an investigation by The Associated Press found that 14 states have speed limits that are equal to or higher than the speeds most heavy vehicle tires were designed to handle. Truck tires are rarely designed to go faster than 75 mph and tire manufacturers say exceeding that limit can cause tires to fail and blow out. If vehicles were unable to exceed that speed, they would be far less likely to see their tires fail.

However, some are concerned that limiting a driver’s ability to control speed could lead to more accidents, particularly if faster cars are forced to slow down for speed-limited trucks. This is particularly dangerous on interstate highways with speed limits between 75 and 80 mph. The Institute for Transportation Engineers notes that vehicles driving 10 mph slower than the prevailing speed are six times more likely to be involved in an accident than vehicles going 10 mph over the limit.

Commercial drivers license (CDL) holders are held to a higher standard than most other drivers. Speeding 15 miles or above and other run-of-the-mill moving violations are considered serious offenses when driving a commercial vehicle. The cost of a speeding ticket can run in the hundreds of dollars and can significantly increase your insurance rates. Moreover, being convicted of two serious traffic violations within a three-year period can result in a 60-day suspension.

If you or a loved one has been ticketed for speeding while driving a commercial vehicle, it is recommended that you consult an attorney to help you avoid the costs associated with a ticket. Adam H. Rosenblum of the Rosenblum Law Firm is a skilled New York traffic ticket attorney who is experienced in handling tickets for speeding as well as other driving-related offenses. Call 888-203-2619 or email the Rosenblum Law Firm today for a free consultation about your case.