The U.S. Department of Transportation’s (DOT) National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) published today a joint proposal to mandate equipping heavy-duty vehicles with devices to limit their speeds on U.S. highways. The DOT notice states that by requiring these devices to limit the maximum speed of vehicles, it will not only save lives but could also save have more than $1 billion in fuel costs annually.
The proposed new safety standards would require all newly manufactured U.S. trucks, buses and multipurpose passenger vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds to come equipped with speed limiting devices. However, the proposal does not designate a maximum speed at this point but instead discusses the potential benefits of setting the maximum speed at 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour, and will consider other speeds based on public input.
Further, under the proposal, motor carriers operating commercial vehicles in interstate commerce would be responsible for maintaining the speed limiting devices at or below the designated maximum speed for the service life of the vehicle under the proposal.
The intended method for limiting speed is to utilize the engine control module and will look to monitor compliance through the OBD connection, but the agencies will consider alternative technologies and options that will achieve the same function and speed limiting modification (e.g. GPS). Also, in this initial proposal, there is a no anti-tampering requirement, but the rulemaking will evaluate readability requirements as well as display requirements for the date (or some other indicator such as mileage or engine life) and the maximum speed setting, in addition to the most recent two modifications to the device. The initial device setting is intended to occur at the point of manufacture.
Based on the initial proposal, the new requirement would only apply to newly manufactured vehicles, but both manufacturers and operators will be subject to the requirement. As well, there will be discussion and consideration for the feasibility of retrofit back to a certain date, based on technical advice from the industry. So, although there is no retrofit requirement as part of the initial proposal, the agencies are considering adding this requirement unless convinced otherwise.
The joint rulemaking was prompted by a 2006 petition by America Trucking Associations and Road Safe America, however the trucking industry is not united on this issue. ABA will be soliciting input from members to prepare comments for submission, and urges ABA members to prepare their own individual comments as well. You can submit comments on the proposed rule at https://www.regulations.gov/docket?D=NHTSA-2016-0087 or send them in via mail. Comments are due Nov. 7, and there is 15-page comment limit. There is no limit to the number of attachments that can be included with any submitted comments.