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New Federal Motor Carrier Regulation to Require Semi Speed Limiters

May 17, 2022

Major safety changes are happening in the trucking industry. On May 4, 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) posted an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking in the Federal Register which will make speed-limiting devices mandatory on all trucks, buses and multipurpose vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds. This proposal expands upon a 2016 joint proposal of the FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) which suggested commercial vehicle speeds be limited to either 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour. The new proposal does not specify a maximum speed and the FMCSA is now looking to the industry for information and suggestions on how operations have changed since its earlier announcement, how many carriers are already using speed-limiters, what top speeds are currently being used, what training is required for maintenance technicians, what tools are required, how long changes will take and where changes will occur.

According to data from the NHTSA’s Fatality Analysis Reporting System, there was a 50 percent increase in fatal semi crashes involving excessive speed from 2009 to 2019. Members of the safety advocacy group, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways hold the opinion that the proposed rule “has the potential to save hundreds of lives every year.” A comprehensive study released by the Department of Transportation in 2012 showed that semis operating without speed limiters had 16.4 crashes per 100 trucks, versus 11 crashes for those equipped with limiters. The study analyzed data from more than 150,000 trucks and more than 28,000 crashes between 2007 and 2009. The study also showed that the annual crash rate for trucks with speed limiters was 1.4 per 100 trucks, while carriers without were more than three times as high with 5 crashes per 100 trucks.

American legislators have been working for decades to limit the speed of semis on our nation’s interstates. Semis are heavier and take longer to stop than passenger cars. When speeding is involved, the consequences are often deadly. According to Steve Williams, CEO of Maverick USA, co-founder and president of the Trucking Alliance and former chairman of the American Trucking Association, “Millions of motorists are within a few feet of 80,000-pound tractor trailer rigs each day and there is no reason why that equipment should be driven at 75 or 80 or 85 miles per hour.”

In May of 2021 a bill was introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives which would require the transportation secretary to mandate speed-limiting technology in large commercial vehicles, capping top speeds at 65 or 70 miles per hour on all vehicles with adaptive cruise control capabilities and automatic emergency braking, but it has yet to be passed. Those who oppose these changes hold the opinion that traffic is safest when vehicles travel at the same relative speeds and that limiting truck speeds below the flow of traffic will result in increases in interactions between vehicles and lead to more crashes.

A similar bill was introduced in the Senate in June of 2019, known as the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, which specified that all new trucks weighing more than 26,001 pounds were to operate speed-limiters to the top-speed of 65 miles per hour. According to Senator Isakson, these changes 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 Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act was endorsed by several safety advocate organizations, including Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway 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. Cullum Owings was a 22-year-old college student who was killed in a car vs. semi crash in 2002 in Atlanta, Georgia while returning home on Thanksgiving break. The young man tragically lost his life after a speeding semi driver, using cruise control, crashed into his car while stopped in traffic.

Semi accidents are far more likely to result in catastrophic injuries and deaths than accidents between passenger vehicles. If you or your loved one has been injured or killed in a collision with a semi or tractor-trailer, the team at Kendall Law Group LLC has the experience, skills and dedication necessary to get you the compensation you deserve. If you are looking for a semi accident attorney in the Kansas City Metro or surrounding areas, contact us today at (816) 531-3100 for a free consultation or contact us here.