Road Safe America, carriers petition FMCSA for speed governors

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In what is believed to be the first Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration petition jointly filed by a public safety interest group and a group of motor carriers, Road Safe America and several companies petitioned FMCSA last week to require electronic speed governors be set at not more than 68 mph. The proposed regulation would affect class 7 and 8 trucks manufactured after 1990 (in 1991, speed governors became standard equipment).

Nine motor carriers — including Schneider National, J.B. Hunt Transport, C.R. England, Covenant Transport and Dart Transit — also signed the petition, which was filed with FMCSA on Sept. 11. Bill Graves, president and chief executive officer of the American Trucking Associations, already has submitted a letter of support for this measure to FMCSA. The petition will be available for public comment as soon as it is docketed for rulemaking by FMCSA.

Recent FMCSA studies suggest that limiting the speed of commercial trucks will have a significant impact on safety. According to FMCSA’s Large Truck Causation Study, “traveling too fast for conditions” was the single most frequently cited factor in large truck crashes where trucks were assigned a critical reason.

“The 80-miles-per-hour, 80,000-pound truck has no place on our highways,” says Steve Owings, who co-founded Road Safe America after he lost his 22-year-old son, Cullum, in a high-speed truck accident. “This petition is a matter of life and death for drivers of passenger cars, as well as for professional truck drivers. And it is a matter of economic common sense for the companies that put trucks on the road.”

Don Osterberg, vice president of safety and training for Schneider National, joined Owings in supporting what he called “one of the most important safety initiatives in commercial vehicle transportation in the last 20 years.” Osterberg says that Schneider is among a growing number of national carriers that maintains speed governors on their trucks at below 68 mph. In addition to safety improvements, carriers already governing their trucks’ top speed at these levels cite savings in fuel consumption, liability costs and equipment wear and tear as business reasons for the limitation.

“Historically, carriers have waited for regulations to come down from the federal government and not been actively engaged in the process,” Osterberg says. “What’s unique in this filing is that a core group of responsible carriers is stepping up and initiating a proactive change for improving public safety. This is good for drivers, good for the motoring public and good for the entire trucking industry.”