While there’s a strong safety argument to be made in limiting truck speeds to 65 mph, two major trucking groups are emphasizing fuel efficiency benefits as well in officially backing legislation requiring speed limiters on trucks.
The Truckload Carriers Association (TCA) and the Trucking Alliance announced on July 10 their support for S. 2033, introduced on June 27 by Johnny Isakson (R-Georgia) and Chris Coons (D-Delaware). Known as “The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019,” the legislation would require new commercial trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiters set at a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour. Existing trucks that already have the technology installed would be required to set the 65-mph limit as well, while those without speed limiters would not be required to install the technology retroactively. Owners of older trucks without speed limiters would, however, be required to comply with the 65-mph limit or be issued a federal safety violation rather than a state-issued speeding ticket, according to the Trucking Alliance.
The bill is supported by grassroots safety advocates such as Road Safe America, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways and Parents Against Tired Truckers.
David Heller, TCA’s Vice President of Government Affairs, said his group believes that a speed limiter mandate will have benefits beyond safety.
“Specifically, the fuel efficiency of trucks will dramatically increase with lower maximum speeds, showing that this proposal will improve both the environmental and business aspects of the industry as well,” Heller told FreightWaves in a statement.
In lending support for the measure, Trucking Alliance member Reggie Dupré, CEO of Dupré Logistics, said his company “has utilized speed limiters to improve safety and fuel efficiencies for several years.” Wilson Risinger, Vice President of Safety & Security at KLLM Transport Services, pointed out that “most fleets now utilize speed limiters to improve safety and fuel efficiencies and this legislation will help ensure that all our industry’s carriers do the same.”
The Trucking Alliance cites a 2016 joint rulemaking by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – which was never finalized – projecting that a speed limiter mandate would result save $848 million per year in fuel savings and greenhouse gas emissions reductions.
S. 2033, which has not yet gained Congressional support beyond its two co-sponsors, has also yet to receive support from the American Trucking Associations (ATA), which backs a uniform standard for cars and trucks to account for safety risks caused by speed differentials between the two classes of vehicles. The Trucking Alliance claims, however, that such differentials would not affect safety, noting that on rural interstate highways, 10 states restrict large trucks to maximum speeds of 65 mph while cars can legally drive faster. It also points to the European Union, where the difference between the average maximum speed limits for large trucks and cars is 20 mph “with no reported safety risks.”