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DOT Finally Proposes Truck Speed-Limiter Rule

August 26, 2016, by David Cullen

Image: FMCSA
Image: FMCSA

Federal safety regulators are proposing that heavy-duty vehicles be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a specific maximum speed. A notice of proposed rulemaking was issued jointly on Aug. 26 by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration.

The NPRM comes after a decade-long push by trucking and safety advocates to put such a requirement in place for trucks and other commercial vehicles.

For its part, NHTSA is calling for establishing a new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard. This FMVSS would require that each new “multipurpose” vehicle with a GVWR over 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device. 

The proposed standard would also require each vehicle, as manufactured and sold, to have its device set to a speed not greater than a specified speed and to be equipped with means of reading the vehicle’s current speed setting and the two previous speed settings (including the time and date the settings were changed) through its onboard diagnostic connection. 

FMCSA is proposing a complementary Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulation that would require each commercial motor vehicle with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds be equipped with a speed limiting device meeting the requirements of the proposed FMVSS applicable to the vehicle at the time of manufacture, including the requirement that the device be set to a speed not greater than a specified speed. 

In addition, carriers operating such vehicles in interstate commerce would be required to maintain the speed limiting devices for the service life of the vehicle.

However, no speed limit has been proposed yet for the proposed limiters. The Department of Transportation said only that the proposal “discusses the benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour, but the agencies will consider other speeds based on public input.”

“This is basic physics,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind.  “Even small increases in speed have large effects on the force of impact.  Setting the speed limit on heavy vehicles makes sense for safety and the environment.”

The speed-limiter NPRM was initiated way back in May of 2013. Seven years before that, the American Trucking Associations petitioned the two agencies to require speed limiters on all large trucks that would be set in order to electronically limit top speed to no more than 65 mph.

According to DOT, the two agencies’ review of the available data indicates that limiting the speed of heavy vehicles would reduce the severity of crashes involving these vehicles and reduce the resulting fatalities and injuries. 

“We expect that, as a result of this joint rulemaking, virtually all of these vehicles would be limited to that speed,” stated DOT in its notice. DOT said that implementing the proposal safety “could save lives and more than $1 billion in fuel costs each year.”

“There are significant safety benefits to this proposed rulemaking,” said Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx. “In addition to saving lives, the projected fuel and emissions savings make this proposal a win for safety, energy conservation, and our environment.” 

The American Trucking Associations “hailed” the NPRM “as a potential step forward for safety.”  ATA President and CEO Chris Spear  said the lobby was “pleased NHTSA and FMCSA have, almost 10 years after we first petitioned them, released this proposal to mandate the electronic limiting of commercial vehicle speeds. Speed is a major contributor to truck accidents and by reducing speeds, we believe we can contribute to a reduction in accidents and fatalities on our highways.” 

Spear added that carriers that are already using speed limiters voluntarily “have found significant safety, as well as fuel efficiency and equipment lifespan benefits with little to no negative impact on productivity. We will be carefully reviewing and commenting upon today’s proposal.” 

Among those comments will be ATA’s position on the maximum speed setting and tamper-proofing of the devices. 

ATA said its 2006 petition seeking this rulemaking sought a maximum speed of 68 mph and that the association’s safety agenda calls for a national speed limit for all vehicles of 65 mph.

“In their proposal, the agencies say setting the speed at 68 could save 27 to 96 lives per year; setting it at 65 could save 63 to 214 lives annually and at 60 could save 162 to 498 lives,” ATA said in a statement, “but notes that they do not have the same confidence about the data for the 60 mph alternative as the other two options.” 

The association also said the proposed rule “despite ATA’s initial request does not mandate the limiters be tamper-proof, instead it proposes requiring motor carriers to maintain the speed limiting devices at a set speed within the range permitted by the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards.”

While ATA has long been a proponent of speed limiters, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association responded to the NPRM by calling it a “dangerous mandate.”

OOIDA contends that use of “such devices create speed differentials that lead to more crashes and promote road rage among other motorists.” 

OOID also argues that speed limiters “actually take control out of the hands of drivers in that there are a number of scenarios that require drivers to accelerate in order to avoid danger.” 

“Highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed,” said OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer. “This wisdom has always been true and has not ever changed. “No technology can replace the safest thing to put in a truck, which is a well-trained driver."

DOT will seek public comment on the proposed rule for 60 days after it is published in the Federal Register, which is likely to occur during the week of Aug. 29. Comments should be addressed to these DOT docket numbers: NHTSA-2016-0087 and FMCSA-2014-008.

Once the comment period opens, comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:

  • Federal eRulemaking Portal.  Follow the online instructions for submitting comments  
  • Mail. Docket Management Facility.  U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001
  • Hand Delivery or Courier.  1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays 
  • Fax. 202-493-2251


  1. 1. Leveraction [ August 26, 2016 @ 08:40AM ]

    This is a very ignorant plan/idea. It is obvious the DOT does not run the roads of America daily. We already have most corporate owned trucks only running between 60 and 68 mph max. Get on any Interstate and they back up 7 - 10 deep side by side and cause huge back-ups. I have seen when these log jams clear, in the left lane cars are gunning it and running 90mph to get around the train of trucks before one pulls out to try and pass again. Then eventually a truck pulls out to pass and a car flying up to get around them hits it doing 80+ while the truck can only do a little over 60 mph. What we need is three lanes in both directions on all Interstates with the trucks restricted to the two right lanes. Also, trucks only able to run slow on roads with 70 to 80 mph speed limits is very dangerous. People texting etc... are constantly rear ending them.

  2. 2. DEWAYNE SPENCE [ August 26, 2016 @ 08:48AM ]

    This ruling and everything else they have forced on truck driver in the last 10 years have nothing to do with safety. As a owner operator for over 20 years I am at a higher risk of being in an accident than ever before. This is nothing but how large companies can make their trucks and sub-standard drivers keep moving. Don't forget that political motives about safety and children are always really about easy money and profit.

  3. 3. Norman Taylor [ August 26, 2016 @ 08:52AM ]

    It seems to me that the dog needs to look into things closer before they make a ruling they need to get out from behind the desk and look at what's happening around this country on on the interstate safety is our number one priority if it isn't safe for us then how do you expect it to be safe for the public they are constantly changing the rules to justify their jobs and not necessarily in the interest of Public Safety they claim that these rules are intended to protect the public but what rules are they making to protect the truckers from aggressive drivers that speed all the time and their automobiles weave in and out of traffic and under the influence they make a big effort to slam the trucking industry with rules and regulations but they don't make a big effort to put a stop to what's the cause of most accidents I wonder why that is I wonder why that is.....

  4. 4. That1 [ August 26, 2016 @ 09:25AM ]

    Perfect opportunity to block all the lanes and drive along side by side since each truck is going to have same speed set. And don't forget to pay the driver more money per mile since we will be covering less miles in given hrs.

  5. 5. Fred Shay [ August 26, 2016 @ 09:26AM ]

    I have experience with speed limiting devices. I don't see a problem in using them but there are still questions on how they are implemented.
    With the major trucking firm that I drove for with both a governor set to 63 mph but also an alarm that would tell me if I hit 63 mph with my foot on the pedal or 70 in coasting downhill. The computer kept count of the time spent in"overspeed" and the company gave incentives to keeping the overspeed totals low. They also provided training or discipline to drivers with chronically high overspeed totals.
    While this works fine for company drivers, what do you do for the owner/operator who reports to no one and is incentivised to drive as fast as possible to meet schedules?
    There are issues from state to state where the speed limit for trucks varies. In Illinois, the speed limit for trucks is 55 mph. Next door in Missouri, the speed limit is the same as cars. If we're going to put more computer smarts in the truck, then the answer may not be blanket rules but controls and alarms to help the driver observe local or emergency safety rules such as changes in speed limit or notification of traffic jams or accidents. The key to speed safety is reducing the differences in speed limits for different vehicles on the same road and providing providing clear and timely warning of pending problems on the roadway. Both cars & trucks are beginning to get this proactive technology.

  6. 6. Janet [ August 26, 2016 @ 09:33AM ]

    How does this affect older heavy duty trucks? Do we have to install this speed limiter on our trucks?

  7. 7. Frank nicholles [ August 26, 2016 @ 11:48AM ]

    Once again ATA gets to pay off politicians to get there agenda passed.

  8. 8. Justin [ August 26, 2016 @ 03:58PM ]

    Long live my 1985 MACK!
    The talking heads think there is a road rage/ traffic crash problem now? Just wait .....
    I drive a speed limited truck.I will get that feature removed from my ECM.
    I do not take kindly to having my well-being put in jeopardy because I CANNOT get out of the way!

  9. 9. Jeremy [ August 26, 2016 @ 04:31PM ]

    How many lives would we save if speed limiters where put on cars?
    I would like to see those numbers
    But put more rules out for trucks then wonder why
    Know one wants to driver a truck anymore
    How many people go to work in America and are under a microscope all day long being watch?
    Well the American Truck is !!!!!
    I feel for all professional Drive that make a living delivery Americans goods
    Thanks you!!!

  10. 10. Dave [ August 27, 2016 @ 09:46AM ]

    What the heck am I supposed to do in the wide open spaces of the west,
    when i am bored to death driving 65-68 mph. Go some where in CO, NE, KS,
    at 65 and see how fast you don't get there. Takes long enough at 75+, Don't have enough hrs in the day. Drive older Pete, all mechanical set up
    for cruising 75. Been on the roads 30+ yrs. No respect from today's drivers
    in cars. Just guess i will put an RV plate on it, and ignore the speed limit
    for trucks. At least I have more exp. than G&G that only drove Honda's
    and Toyota's. Tired of the rules, keep today's idiots safe that
    come from DC. What happened to common sense in driving?
    Hauled a lot of heavy OS loads.

  11. 11. Michael Galorath [ August 28, 2016 @ 07:07AM ]

    This law is a great, example of the bean counters sitting in Washington where life is good. The country is thriving. They look out the windows and see nothing but flowers. The more educated one is the more they know because they have a PHD and Masters are experts in their field. Not one have common sense! Very few have real world knowledge. All the government does is look a reports and not a one gets out on the road and drives. Experience what 4 wheels do and how if effect truck traffic. Truck drivers and not the most perfect drivers but far better then the 4 wheels on the road. 68/72 max speed is and great way to hold back trucks from braking the sound barrier. I see that they want every new truck with a GVW of 26k be equipped with speed limiters. Hello NHTSA any truck built after 1991 has the capability of setting the limiters. How can a entire group of law makers know know this/ O yes we are talking about government brain dead group of people.

  12. 12. Benny James [ August 28, 2016 @ 09:24AM ]

    The Insanity continues!! The Army of unelected Fascists in Washington DC Bureaucracies with the sole purpose of destroying Freedom and Independence, have once again jeopardized Public Safety with this Draconian, UNSAFE Proposal!! The Deaths and Road Rage that this Communist Idea will be responsible for is unfathomable! The inability for 18 Wheelers to pass each other and other traffic on 2-way/2-lane Highways will result in HUNDREDS of DEADLY HEAD-ON COLLISIONS!! The daily occurrence NATIONWIDE, EVERYWHERE the Motoring Public travels, of Commercial Trucks LINED UP, SIDE BY SIDE, plodding down the Interstates, Highways and Freeways of America at EXACTLY the SAME SPEED will have ALL TRAFFIC BACKED UP FOR MILES EVERYWHERE!! The ROAD RAGE that will be the Direct Result of these BRAIN DEAD Government Bureaucrats will CATASTROPHIC!! Motorists and especially Truck Drivers will be GETTING SHOT on a Daily Basis!! This TYRANNICAL Government of ours has finally gone TOO FAR!! With the Sleep Apnea/CPAP NONSENSE!! The Inward Facing Windshield Cameras!! The DANGEROUS Electronic Logs/EOBR's!! Coming next will be Government Dieticians stationed at each Truck Stop to Count our Calories, and then have an Exercise Coach to put us through an exercise regimen in the Parking Lot!! This Industry has LOST All of its Appeal to me!! I have been a Trucker since the Day I turned 18 when I got my Class 1 License in CA. I am now 50 with 32 Years and 3.5 MILLION MILES of Safe Driving on America's Beautiful Highways!! I have NEVER hurt anybody and safety is my #1 Priority!! I however chose this Career for the #1 Reason of the FREEDOM and INDEPENDENCE and ADVENTURE it has always provided for me and my Family! That FREEDOM has been Robbed from me and this Great Industry that built this once Great Country!!

  13. 13. Me [ August 28, 2016 @ 11:39PM ]

    Your toilet paper is made in Wisconsin. Guess you guys at the acronym generation office should get your wheelbarrow, and trot on up there and get it yourself.

  14. 14. John [ August 29, 2016 @ 06:48AM ]


    Once the comment period opens, comments may be submitted by any of the following methods:
    •Federal eRulemaking Portal. Follow the online instructions for submitting comments
    •Mail. Docket Management Facility. U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001
    •Hand Delivery or Courier. 1200 New Jersey Avenue S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. ET, Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays
    •Fax. 202-493-2251

  15. 15. Willie [ August 29, 2016 @ 07:44AM ]

    Excellent ruling. we dont need an 80,000 lbs weapon traveling at 80+ mph on our highways.

  16. 16. Jw in the desert [ August 30, 2016 @ 08:14AM ]

    totall insanity.....that guy willie is obviously not a driver.

  17. 17. Richard [ August 30, 2016 @ 08:16AM ]

    Yhis stinks of Swift, Knight and some of the other training driver companies.
    I remember when Swift was set at 55 and Schnider had an alarm and their dispatcher would message them and scold them for going too fast down a hill.
    Time to park them and let the minions get their goods by walking themselves to the source
    Gone are the good days of the Monfort lane, Ringsby and a few other great companies to drive for.

  18. 18. Paul [ August 30, 2016 @ 10:56AM ]

    I am not a proponent of more government regulations, however I do believe that the trucking industry has brought this upon themselves. I don't care if the speed is set at 68,70,75 because I believe the biggest danger is higher speeds at the wrong locations. So if a truck is limited to 70 and is doing that in a 45 mph zone it is still a danger. Another point to consider is that the law makers also drive the same roads that truckers do and they see the unprofessional behavior of some of the truck drivers and it is easier to push legislation to the whole industry than it is to police the roads. I understand that 4 wheeler drivers are jerks to, but the trucking industry is much easier to regulate than the general population. So every time a trucker cuts off a 4 wheeler or pulls out to pass right in the line of passing traffic and then holds up the line of traffic for 10 minutes, it puts a black mark on the industry. I know I get extremely frustrated with truck drivers that do this. So if truck speeds are regulated to a certain standard there may be less temptation for a trucker to pull up and block the passing lane for many miles. I think if this regulation passes then they need to fund policing with it to enforce " stay right except to pass" ( which they should already). I would vote for a system like Germany. Trucks are limited to the same speed and they stay in the right lane almost all of the time and car speeds are unlimited but drivers stay in the right lane unless they are passing! It was the best driving I have ever experienced.

  19. 19. Bob [ August 30, 2016 @ 10:09PM ]

    Yeah, all drivers should stay in the right lane unless they are passing!!! This doesn't mean trucks need speed limiters. Cars ride the left lane for hundreds of miles and screw everything up! This idea of speed limiters is just big trucking companies wanting everyone else to follow what they do in there companies and they are the ATA, so everyone needs to stop working for any company that is associated with the ATA. This country is a bunch of pussy ass push overs anymore. I'm moving to one that has some common damn sense.

  20. 20. Bob [ August 30, 2016 @ 10:20PM ]

    Yeah, everyone needs to stay in the right lane unless passing, but you have cars riding the left lane for hundreds of miles screwing everything up!! There will be more wrecks when every truck is out there fucking around like Swift and JB Hunt trucks! Truckers need to stop driving for companies that are associated with the ATA because they just want all other companies to get speed limiters because they have them. They pushed for e logs and won, they're pushing for speed limiters and they will win that too! Next they will get the minimum insurance coverage raised so everyone's insurance will go up. Everything they push for, they will get passed because the DOT eats their asses!


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