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Federal Regulators Propose Speed Limiters for Commercial Trucks & Buses

In an effort to prevent truck wrecks and save lives, federal regulators have proposed a new speed limiting rule for certain commercial trucks and buses traveling on U.S. highways. This proposed regulation, which has yet to be finalized or enacted, could have various impacts on truckers, trucking companies and the motoring public at large.

The following presents more details about this proposed rule, along with the potential benefits of – and opposition to – it.

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Background: The Details of the New Speed Limiter Rule 

Feds Propose Speed Limiters for Commercial Trucks & Buses

Feds Propose Speed Limiters for Commercial Trucks & Buses

According to the terms of the proposal speed limiter rule, the regulation would require “new multipurpose” vehicles weighing at least 26,000 pounds to be outfitted with “a speed limiting device.” This rule would reportedly apply to:

  • Commercial trucks
  • Commercial passenger vehicles, like buses
  • School buses.

The mandate would require speed limiting devices to be “set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with a means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings.” These devices would have to be maintained in the required vehicles “for the service life of the vehicle.”

At this point, many details of the proposed rule still remain unclear, including: 

  • The actual speed limit at which these devices would have to be set – The current proposal posits 60, 65 and 68 miles per hour (mph) as possible speed limits.
  • Whether existing vehicles would have to be retrofitted with a speed limiting device – While the proposal applies to newly manufactured vehicles, it does not address whether or how the speed limiter requirements would apply to trucks and buses that are already on the roads.

Potential Benefits of the Proposal Speed Limiter Rule

Though some important details about the new proposal remain unknown, various parties, including transportation safety officials, have already expressed support for this rule. That is largely because, if enacted, the rule is expected to result in benefits like (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Reducing the incidence of serious and deadly truck wrecks – Speeding is a factor in nearly 25 percent of truck wrecks and bus accidents.1 By taking speeding out of the equation and forcing heavy commercial vehicles to travel at slower speeds, the expectations are that:
    • Many bus and truck accidents can be prevented, saving lives.
    • When accidents do happen, the resulting impacts and injuries are more likely to be less severe.
  • Improving fuel economy – Limiting the speed at which commercial vehicles travel could also reportedly save “millions of gallons of fuel annually,” according to Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA). This improvement in fuel economy could, in fact, result in about $1.1 billion savings in fuel costs.
  • Benefiting the environment – Limiting the speed of larger commercial vehicles would reduce their CO2 omissions, adding environmental benefits to the proposed rule.

Elaborating these potential benefits, Anthony Foxx (former U.S. Transportation Secretary) has explained: 

There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking … In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.

Opposition to the Proposed Speed Limiter Rule

Opposing the speed limiter proposal are various parties associated with the trucking industry (including the American Trucking Association and the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association).

This backlash has primarily stemmed from the negative impacts that those in the trucking industry believe speed limiters would have, like (but not necessarily limited to):

  • Upsetting current pay and incentive systems – These systems are currently structured around delivery schedules, with incentives commonly coming into play for early deliveries. However, if truckers are bound to travel at slower speeds on U.S. highways (and they must comply with hours-of-service (HOS) rules that limit their time behind the wheel), it will take longer to make deliveries (than it would without speed limiters). This would likely eliminate the possibility of early deliveries. That, in turn, could make current payment and incentive structures unsuitable, if not dis-incentivizing.
  • Increasing the costs of doing business – Longer delivery schedules could mean that motor carriers need to hire more truckers and add to their fleets in order to meet their current workloads. If the proposed rule also ends up requiring that operating trucks are retrofitted with speed limiters, motor carriers (and owner operators) could face hefty costs in outfitting their trucks with these devices.

As more news about this proposed rule becomes available, we’ll provide additional updates in a future blog.

Find Out More about Your Potential Truck Wreck Claim: Contact a Truck Accident Lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm

If you or a loved one has been hurt in a truck wreck, contact a truck accident lawyer at the Amaro Law Firm to discover more about your legal options for financial recovery.

Call (713) 352-7975, text (281) 612-8024 or email our firm for a free consultation.

We are ready to provide you helpful legal advice and the advocacy you need to position your claim for a successful outcome.


1: According to the latest data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)