The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration’s (FMCSA) notice of intent to proceed with rulemaking to mandate speed limiters on most heavy-duty trucks is being published in the Federal Register Wednesday, May 4. The publication of what the agency is calling an advance notice of supplemental proposed rulemaking opens the comment period for 30 days.
As previously reported, the notice does not specify any speed to which trucks will be limited under the regulation and is not a proposal of any regulatory language to amend the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations. Instead, it is a fact-finding and data-mining tool for FMCSA to determine how to best proceed with the rule.
The speed limiter debate has been on the back-burner since early in the Trump administration. A joint rulemaking issued in 2016 by FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration explored potentially limiting trucks to either 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour.
The new notice is being published solely by FMCSA, and the requirements of the rule will fall to motor carriers to implement the speed limiters rather than the OEMs.
In the notice, FMCSA said it is considering making the rule only applicable to trucks manufactured after a certain date — potentially 2003 — "because this is the population of vehicles for which [electronic engine control units] were routinely installed and may potentially be used to govern the speed of the vehicles.”
The agency added that moving forward with a motor carrier-based speed limiter rule “will ensure compliance with the rule, and potentially avoid confusion on who is responsible” for implementing the speed limiters and ensuring they remain active.
During the 30-day comment period, FMCSA is asking for public comment on 12 questions, specifically dealing with the programming or adjustment of engine control units (ECUs) that could be made to impose speed limits on heavy-duty trucks. The questions are as follows:
- What percentage of the CMV fleet currently uses speed limiting devices?
- If in use, at what maximum speed are the devices generally set?
- What skill sets or training are needed for motor carriers’ maintenance personnel to adjust or program ECUs to set speed limits?
- What tools or equipment are needed to adjust or program ECUs?
- How long would adjustment or reprogramming of an ECU take?
- Where can the adjustment or reprogramming of an ECU be completed?
- Can the adjustment or reprogramming of an ECU be made on-site where the vehicle is ordinarily housed or garaged, or would it have to be completed at a dealership?
- Do responses to questions 3 through 6 change based on the model year of the power unit?
- Since publication of the NPRM (in 2016), how has standard practice or technology changed as it relates to the ability to set speed limits using ECUs?
- Are there any challenges or burdens associated with FMCSA publishing a rule without NHTSA updating the FMVSS?
- Should FMCSA revisit using the 2003 model year as the baseline requirement for the rule?
- Should FMCSA consider a retrofit requirement in the rule and, if so, should it be based on model year or other criteria, and what would the cost of such a requirement be?
- Should FMCSA include truck Classes 3-6 (i.e., 10,001 – 26,001 lbs. GVWR) in the SNPRM?
CCJ research since the notice of intent was announced last week found that a majority of fleets already have speed limiters in place, and nearly half of those have the limiters set at 66 miles per hour or higher.
Speed limiters have largely been supported by the American Trucking Associations, which last week applauded FMCSA for reviving the rulemaking, adding that ATA “look[s] forward to working with the agency to shape a final rule that is consistent with our policy supporting the use of speed limiters in conjunction with numerous other safety technologies.”
On the other side of the debate, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association has long been opposed to speed limiters and last week reaffirmed that position, stating that speed differentials between trucks and passenger cars on highways will have a negative impact on safety.
Polling in Overdrive as of Tuesday afternoon showed opposition to any speed-limiter mandate at rates above 8 in every 10 respondents, with the poll remaining open.