FMCSA pushes speed limiter proposal another year

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Trucking news and briefs for Wednesday, July 10, 2024:

Speed limiter proposal delayed into 2025

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is seemingly slowing down in its efforts to develop a proposed rule to potentially mandate speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks.

In the Spring 2024 Unified Regulatory Agenda, FMCSA is now projecting a May 2025 publication date for the speed limiter notice of proposed rulemaking. In the Department of Transportation’s Significant Rulemakings Report released in late January, the proposed rule was slated for a May 2024 publication.

FMCSA revived the speed limiter debate in 2022 with a notice of intent to proceed with a rulemaking that would require the use of speed limiters on heavy trucks. A prior DOT rulemaking report published last September -- which first listed the maximum speed for the mandate at 68 mph before the agency backtracked to remove a specific speed -- indicated the speed limiter proposal would be published in December 2023, later pushed to this May.

FMCSA has said its new proposal will require motor carriers operating trucks equipped with an electronic engine control unit (ECU) capable of governing the truck’s maximum speed to limit the truck to a speed as determined by the rulemaking and maintain that ECU setting for the service life of the truck.

There are also efforts ongoing in Congress to bar FMCSA from mandating speed limiters on trucks.

[Related: What’s going on with speed limiters and other trucking legislation?]

FMCSA names new chief counsel

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration on Tuesday announced Melody Drummond Hansen as the agency’s new Chief Counsel.  

Melody Drummond HansenMelody Drummond HansenIn this role, Drummond Hansen will work closely with and advise the FMCSA Acting Administrator and senior staff on all aspects of legal policy for agency programs. She will lead a team of more than 50 attorneys responsible for providing legal support on regulatory and legislative affairs, adjudications, enforcement and litigation, procurement and grants, ethics, and employment matters.

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Drummond Hansen brings a decade of experience advising clients across the automotive and transportation industry and 20 years of experience in emerging technologies.

“Melody is a great addition to the FMCSA leadership team,” said FMCSA Acting Administrator Vinn White. “This is an exciting time for the agency, and I have no doubt that Melody’s dedication and proven track record in transportation and technology will help advance FMCSA’s mission and improve safety for everyone traveling the nation’s roadways.”

Before joining FMCSA, Drummond Hansen was a partner at BakerHostetler LLP, where she was a co-chair of the Automotive/Mobility industry team and a member of the Intellectual Property Group. She advised clients on a range of transportation and technology matters, including automated and connected vehicles, avionics, fleet management, electric and hydrogen-powered vehicles, telecommunications standards, data privacy and security, digital infrastructure, and artificial intelligence.

Drummond Hansen is originally from South Carolina. She received a Bachelor of Arts degree from Georgetown University, a Master of Science from the University of Oxford, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago Law School.

[Related: FMCSA's revolving door at top continues with new Deputy Administrator]

McKee Foods requests extension of split sleeper waiver

McKee Foods Transportation (MFT) is petitioning the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration for a renewal of its exemption allowing its team drivers to split their sleeper berth time into two periods totaling 10 hours.

The company has held the waiver since 2015. The exemption renewal would allow MFT team drivers to continue to take the equivalent of 10 consecutive hours off duty by splitting sleeper berth time into two periods totaling 10 hours, as long as neither of the two periods is less than three hours.

The exemption is currently set to expire on April 20, 2025. The renewal would extend the waiver for five more years.

FMCSA will accept comments on the request for 30 days beginning Wednesday, July 10, at by searching Docket No. FMCSA-2014-0071.