U.S. Senators Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., today introduced bipartisan legislation on June 27, to enact a lifesaving road safety measure for heavy trucks by codifying a pending “speed limiter” rule that has been in process for 10 years.
The Department of Transportation delayed the rulemaking of the “speed limiter rule” more than 20 times since it was first proposed in 2011. On Sept. 7, 2016, a proposed speed limiter rule, which was approved by the Office of Management and Budget, was published for comment.
The new bill, The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019, S.2033, is named for Owings who was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer in 2002.
It would require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices, which must be set to a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour and be used at all times while in operation.
The maximum speed requirement would also be extended to existing trucks that already have the technology installed. Trucks without speed limiters will not be forced to retroactively install the technology.
“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” said Isakson. “This legislation would officially enforce a long-awaited speed limit of 65 mph on large trucks and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways.”
The legislation also establishes that all large trucks manufactured after the effective date shall be equipped with speed-limiting technology. Further, within six months of enactment, the secretary of the U.S. Department of Transportation must establish standards and rules to ensure that the speed-limiting technology on large trucks is accurate and that the trucks adhere to a maximum speed no faster than 65 mph.
According to the Department of Transportation, the “speed-limiter rule” would have minimal cost, as most heavy trucks already have these devices installed, although some vehicles do not have the 65 mph limit set. The department has also found that the rule would decrease the estimated 1,115 fatal crashes a year involving vehicles with a weight of 26,000 pounds or more on roads with posted speed limits of 55 mph or more.
The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 has been endorsed by Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, Parents Against Tired Truckers, the Trucking Alliance, the Truckload Carriers Association and the Truck Safety Coalition.