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Senators introduce bill to limit trucks to 65 mph

Legislation introduced in the Senate would require all new commercial trucks to be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a maximum speed of 65 mph.

U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Chris Coons (D-DE) on June 27 introduced legislation that would require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a maximum speed of 65 mph and be used at all times while in operation.

The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 would also cover existing trucks with the technology installed. Trucks without speed limiters would not be forced to retroactively install the technology.

“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” said Isakson. “This legislation 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.”

“Sen. Isakson has long been a leader in advancing highway safety,” said Coons. “I am pleased to introduce legislation with him that will help reduce accidents on our roadways by requiring the use of speed limiting technology in large trucks – a step that many companies have already taken to promote safety and fuel efficiency.”

Prior to the 2016 presidential election, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on speed limiters. However, instead of picking one speed, the rulemaking sought information about setting a top speed of 60, 65 or 68 mph.

No further action was taken on the rulemaking during the Obama administration, and the incoming Trump administration decided to remove the mandate from the list of the Department of Transportation’s priorities.

The government’s 2016 rulemaking notice on speed limiters came about 10 years after American Trucking Associations and safety advocacy groups initially called for a rule requiring use of limiters in commercial vehicles. In 2006, ATA recommended a maximum speed of 68 mph.

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association was among the groups opposing the idea, citing the danger caused by creating speed differentials between trucks and passengers vehicles on the highway.

The bill introduced last week was named for Cullum Owings, who was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer in 2002. His father, Steve Owings, co-founded the group Road Safe America, and has been working to get a regulation in place.

The legislation establishes that all large trucks manufactured after the effective date would have to be equipped with speed-limiting technology. Further, within six months of enactment, the DOT secretary would have to establish standards to ensure the technology is accurate, and that the trucks adhere to a maximum speed no faster than 65 mph.

DOT has previously said the limiter mandate would save lives and also have minimal cost, as most heavy trucks already have these devices installed. The senators noted that DOT has delayed the speed limiter rulemaking more than 20 times this decade, and that it was approved by the White House Office of Management and Budget in 2016.

The legislation has been endorsed by Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Trucking Alliance and the Truckload Carriers Association.

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