Will Commercial Trucks Ever Be Equipped With Speed Limiters?
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) recently revised its speed limiter entry in the U.S. Department of Transportation's September 2023 Significant Rulemaking Report.
According to the original report, the FMCSA's proposed rulemaking on speed limiters would impose a top speed of 68 mph on most commercial motor vehicles. One of the main goals is to reduce the risk of truck accidents, which result in thousands of traffic fatalities across the United States each year.
However, the speed limiter proposal is now in question. FMCSA clarified that the 68 mph limit was just one of the options under consideration. A final decision hasn't yet been made on the maximum speed limit for commercial trucks.
Reasons behind the change in the speed limiter proposal
It's uncertain if the FMCSA had initially intended a 68 mph top speed but later had to retract the entry due to procedural issues. The FMCSA emphasized that significant rulemakings must undergo review by the White House Office of Management and Budget (OMB) before being published for public comment. That includes determining the maximum speed setting.
FMCSA had initially set December 29 as the target date for unveiling a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking. However, due to the lengthy OMB approval process, the release timeline is uncertain. OMB review could extend for months. Previous speed limiter proposals have spent 15 months in this phase. Even if the process is expedited, it seems unlikely that any final rule would become effective before well into 2025.
Opposition to the speed limiter proposal
The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) expressed some opposition to speed limiter mandates. OOIDA President Todd Spencer speculated that too many contributors may have been involved in the process. Plus, drivers "will have to live with the ramifications" of the rules regulatory bodies impose.
There has also been some opposition among lawmakers. The DRIVE Act, a bill introduced in both the House and the Senate by Rep. Josh Brecheen and Sen. Steve Daines, aimed to render FMCSA's work on speed limiters inconsequential. The lawmakers argued against a national speed limiter mandate. They cited states' rights and safety concerns as reasons for their opposition.
The dangers of speeding trucks
Whether speed limiters become imposed on commercial vehicles, truck drivers still have a duty of care to uphold on the road. That includes driving at a speed that is safe and reasonable.
Tractor-trailers and other commercial trucks are significantly larger and heavier than passenger vehicles. Their increased speed results in a longer stopping distance. When a truck driver is speeding, they have less time to react to sudden changes in traffic conditions or emergencies.
The sheer mass of an 18-wheeler contributes to the severity of injuries and fatalities for occupants of smaller vehicles in the event of a collision. But when these massive trucks exceed speed limits, the risk of causing catastrophic accidents with multiple fatalities significantly increases.
Know your rights if you've been injured in a truck accident
The truck accident attorneys at Pajcic & Pajcic in Jacksonville have seen the devastation speeding truck drivers can cause. If you or a loved one was hurt in a truck accident, we know how to help. We have extensive experience investigating truck accidents and finding the facts that matter to our clients' cases.
Our truck accident lawyers proudly represent injured motorists and their families throughout Florida and the nation. In one historic case, we obtained a $1 billion verdict for the family of a college student killed by a distracted truck driver on I-95. To find out how we can help with your potential legal case, contact us today for a free consultation.