Speed Limiters: ‘Listen To The Truckers,’ Lawmaker Says

Mark Schremmer, Land Line Media
January 2024

A proposal that would mandate speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks received considerable scrutiny during a House subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Dec. 13.

With FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson among the witnesses at a hearing about how the 2021 Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act is being implemented, several lawmakers used the opportunity to question speed limiters and point out many of truck drivers’ concerns.

“Listen to the truckers,” said Rep. Troy Nehls, R-Texas. “I think they would know better than bureaucrats and, specifically, Congress on this.”

In 2022, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration issued an advance notice of proposed rulemaking that considered requiring most commercial motor vehicles to be equipped with a speed-limiting device.

The advance notice didn’t include a proposed top speed but still received heavy opposition from truck drivers. More than 15,000 comments were filed, with the majority coming from truck drivers who spoke out against a requirement that – in many cases – would force them to drive below the legal speed.

Rep. Mike Bost, R-Ill., voiced his concerns about the speed differentials a mandate would cause between cars and trucks on the highway.

“There’s two problems,” Bost said. “One, when I was a state legislator in Illinois, we had one speed limit for cars and one limit for trucks. And we discovered through our research that it caused more wrecks than if everyone just went with the flow of traffic. The other problem that you have is that if you have a skilled driver, you’ve just limited his ability to use speed to react to get away and protect while driving a vehicle.”

Rep. Eric Burlison, R-Mo., also noted that the combination of forcing truck drivers to operate below highway speed limits and work under strict hours-of-service regulations could prompt speeding in slower zones.

“Many of these truckers may end up in a situation where they have to make up time,” Burlison said. “And because they have the speed limiter, the only place to make up time is in city streets, suburbs and construction zones. Are you concerned about the motivation that you’re creating that, I think, would reduce safety in these important areas?”

Hutcheson declined to answer specific questions about the speed limiter rulemaking until a formal proposal is released. The notice of proposed rulemaking, which could be unveiled as early as this month, is expected to include a top speed at that time.

Nehls encouraged Hutcheson to listen to truck drivers’ concerns and cited articles in Land Line Magazine that point to some of the problems involving speed limiters.

“I hope you consider the 15,000 comments from truck drivers who have provided input on this rulemaking,” Nehls said.

Reprinted with permission from OOIDA/Land Line Media