The U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced on August 26th that the Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) propose equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices that limit their speeds on U.S. roadways, and requiring those devices be set to a maximum speed, a safety measure that they say could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year. The Department’s proposal would establish safety standards requiring all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses, and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 pounds to come equipped with speed limiting devices. Those with 1999 year models and newer would be required to install these devices as well. Anything pre-1999 is still up for debate as the agencies have not fully devised a plan to retrofit trucks that do not have electronic engine controls. The proposal discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but the Agencies will consider other speeds based on public input. Motor carriers operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated speed for the service life of the vehicle under the proposal. While the maximum set travel speed will be determined in the final rule, estimates included in the proposal demonstrate that limiting heavy vehicles will save lives. According to the NHTSA, requiring speed limiting devices could also save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually. The Department of Transportation claims a 60 mph limit would prevent between 162 and 498 on-highway deaths a year, a 65 mph limit would see between 63 and 214 deaths prevented, and a 68 mph limit would prevent between 27 and 96 lives a year. The agency also pushes the idea of fuel-saving benefits of speed limiters. At 60 mph, tractor-trailers would save between $2,500 and $6,100 a year on fuel. At 65 mph, the savings are between $1,400 and $3,000, and at 68 mph a tractor-trailer would use between $640 and $1,400 less in fuel. NHTSA and FMCSA also say the rule would help drivers avoid coercive actions from shippers, receivers and carriers who ask truckers to speed to make up time.
The public is encouraged to submit their comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov.