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Road Ahead: The Potential for Federally Mandated Speed Limiters

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) is scheduled to release its final proposal regarding speed limiters for commercial trucks in late December 2023. Currently, commercial vehicles in the United States are not mandated to have speed limiters, which are devices that restrict a vehicle from exceeding a specific speed threshold.


What is a speed limiter?

A speed limiter for a commercial vehicle is a device designed to restrict the maximum speed at which the vehicle can operate. It is a safety feature installed in some commercial trucks, buses, and other large vehicles. The purpose of a speed limiter is to enhance road safety, reduce fuel consumption, and extend the lifespan of the vehicle.

Here's how it works:

  1. Setting a Maximum Speed: The speed limiter is programmed to limit the vehicle's top speed to a predetermined level, typically based on legal speed limits or company policies. This speed is often set at or slightly above the maximum speed limit on highways.

  2. Electronic Control: Speed limiters use electronic controls to restrict the engine's power output. They can be set to limit the vehicle's speed both when it is loaded and when it is empty.

What are the potential pros and cons of speed limiters?

Pros

  • Enhanced Safety: Studies have shown that lower speeds contribute to improved road safety for all road users.

  • Fuel Efficiency: Speed limiters can lead to fuel savings by preventing excessive speeding, which consumes more fuel.

  • Lower Maintenance Costs: Lower speeds put less stress on the vehicle's engine and components, potentially extending the lifespan of the vehicle.

  • Compliance: Speed limiters help ensure that commercial vehicles comply with local traffic laws and regulations.

Cons

  • Potential for Traffic Congestion: In some cases, speed limiters may cause slower commercial vehicles to impede traffic flow, leading to congestion and potential accidents.

  • Reduced Flexibility: Speed limiters limit a driver's ability to adapt to varying road conditions and traffic situations, potentially affecting delivery schedules and efficiency.

  • Safety Concerns on Certain Roads: On roads with higher speed limits or where vehicles need to match the flow of traffic, speed limiters may pose safety concerns if not properly calibrated.

  • Resistance from Drivers: Some drivers may be resistant to the use of speed limiters, perceiving them as limiting their control over the vehicle.

What do industry members think?

You will find that the topic of speed limiters is a divisive issue. Supporters will argue that they improve traffic safety while others argue it will do the opposite by making it difficult for drivers to navigate the flow of traffic. For example, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association argues that speed limiters, “would increase the interaction between large trucks and passenger vehicles, thereby decreasing overall highway safety.” The American Trucking Association (ATA) supports setting a maximum speed of 70 miles per hour for trucks equipped with Automatic Emergency Braking and Adaptive Cruise Control and 65 miles per hour for trucks without these safety features.


What happens next?

In April of 2022, the FMCSA issued a “Notice of Intent” which announced their commitment to proceed with a proposal on mandating speed limiters and a request for public comment on the subject. The FMCSA has amended its proposal which previously stated that heavy trucks would be capped at 68 miles per hour and has decided to determine the speed limit during the time of rulemaking which is scheduled for publication on December 29, 2023.


So, now we wait.

65 mph sign
The traditional government issue speed limiter...
 

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Soshaul Logistics LLC and its affiliates do not provide tax, legal or accounting advice. This material has been prepared for informational purposes only, and is not intended to provide, and should not be relied on for, tax, legal or accounting advice. It is meant to serve as a guide and information only and Soshaul Logistics, LLC does not assume responsibility for any omissions, errors, or ambiguity contained herein. Contents may not be relied upon as a substitute for the FMCSA's published regulations. You should consult your own tax, legal and accounting advisors before engaging in any transaction or operation.



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