Truck Safety Agency Seeks Speed Limiters Despite Driver Wariness

  • FMCSA proposes devices that could slow down heavy trucks
  • Safety groups, lawmakers have advocated for the change

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The Department of Transportation is advancing a plan to require trucks to use speed-limiting devices.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s proposed rule, which would affect trucks weighing more than 26,000 pounds, is set to publish in the Federal Register on Wednesday. The maximum speed would be set in a final rule.

The agency’s initial announcement last week provoked divergent opinions on whether it would make roads safer. The FMCSA will take comments on the proposal for the next month.

“Traffic is safest when vehicles all travel at the same relative speed,” Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association President Todd Spencer said. “Limiting trucks to speeds below the flow of traffic increases interactions between vehicles which can lead to more crashes.”

Photo: Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Cars and trucks move along the Cross Bronx Expressway in New York City on Nov. 16, 2021.

The advanced notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking, which builds on a 2016 proposal, comes after years of advocacy from safety groups. The Truck Safety Coalition, which supports the move, said rules requiring the use of speed limiters in trucks have been delayed more 20 times in the last decade.

“It is past time for the implementation of a speed limiter rule,” Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways Board Member Pamela Biddle said in a statement. “Each day we delay, lives are lost.”

Transportation safety advocates called for the rule in a February letter to Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg. The independent National Safety Transportation Board has also included large truck speed-limiters on its “most wanted list” of safety improvements.

Trucking groups are split over the proposal. OOIDA, which doesn’t want it to advance, said most crashes with commercial motor vehicles happen where speed limits are lower than 55 mph, which the group says would weaken “the effect of any potential mandate.”

The American Trucking Associations is more welcoming of the proposal. The group supports a maximum 70 mph speed limit in trucks with automatic braking and adaptive cruise control, and a 65 mph limit without those features. The group has opposed a speed limit rule if it is in the low 60s.

“ATA is pleased that the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is pursuing a constructive, data-driven approach to the issue of truck speed limiters in its latest proposal,” Chris Spear, the group’s president and CEO, said in a statement.

Lawmakers are pushing for the rule in legislation as well. A bipartisan bill (H.R. 3523) in the House would direct the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to mandate that large trucks have speed-limiting technology and then would set speed limit at 65 mph, or 70 mph if the vehicles have adaptive cruise control and automatic emergency brakes.

To contact the reporter on this story: Lillianna Byington in Washington at

To contact the editors responsible for this story: Sarah Babbage at; Robin Meszoly at

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