US Issues Speed Limiter Proposal

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) have issued a long-awaited proposal to require heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with speed limiting devices and set engines to a maximum speed on U.S. roadways.

The proposal options three maximum speed settings – at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour – but says other speeds could be considered based on public input.

The mandatory speed governing device and would apply to all newly-manufactured vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating more than 26,000 lbs. Motor carriers operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce and Canadian carriers operating in the U.S. 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.

The U.S. follows Ontario and Quebec, which, with the support of the Ontario and Quebec Trucking Associations, were the first two jurisdictions in North America to legislate speed limiter mandates for commercial vehicles. Those speed limits must be set at a maximum 105 km/h or less, which equals about 65 mph.

The proposed rule has been submitted for publication in the Federal Register, and once that happens there will be a 60-day period for public comment. Implementation is likely still years away, however.  NHTSA is proposing a compliance date of the first September, three years after publication of a final rule. For illustration purposes, the proposed regulatory text cites the theoretical date of September 1, 2020.

“Based on the agencies’ review of the available data, limiting the speed of these heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries. We expect that, as a result of this joint rulemaking, virtually all of these vehicles would be limited to that speed,” the proposal reads –  with that speed setting yet to be determined.

Requiring speed-limiting devices could also save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually, the agencies said.

The public is encouraged to submit their comments on the proposed rule at www.regulations.gov.

The full proposal can be viewed and downloaded here.

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