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US senators propose 65 mph truck speed limiters

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A proposal to limit the speed of heavy trucks to 65 mph proposed earlier this year by truck safety groups has been taken up by two U.S. Senators.

“The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019,” introduced on June 27 by Johnny Isakson, R-Ga., and Chris Coons, D-Del., would require new commercial trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds to be equipped with speed limiters set at a maximum speed of 65 miles per hour. Existing trucks that already have the technology installed would be required to set the 65 mph limit as well, while those without speed limiters would not be required to install the technology retroactively.

“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,” Isakson said. “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 comes five months after a coalition led by Road Safe America and the Truck Safety Coalition began lobbying Congress on the issue after previous attempts at changing the law stalled.

“Once we learned that this technology, which could have saved our son, was available and in use by many leading U.S. companies, we founded Road Safe America to educate the public and change things like this,” said Road Safe America president and co-founder Steve Owings.

“This critical safety measure, which has languished for more than 10 years, will put an end to the practice of protecting companies that rely on speeding to remain competitive,” said Harry Adler, executive director of the Truck Safety Coalition.

While it didn’t participate directly in the lobbying effort as part of the Truck Safety Coalition, the Trucking Alliance, whose members include major truckload carriers such as J.B. Hunt (NASDAQ: JBHT), U.S. Xpress [NYSE: USX] and Knight-Swift Transportation (NYSE: KNX), is a proponent of speed limiters and supports the legislation.

“We’re confident Congress will pass this bill and help reduce large truck crashes in which more than 140,000 people were killed or injured last year,” said Trucking Alliance managing director Lane Kidd.

The American Trucking Associations (ATA), has supported speed limiters for both cars and trucks, said it was reviewing the details of the bill. “Our policies support speed limiters but were adopted in the context of more uniform national speed limits for all vehicles,” an ATA spokesman told FreightWaves. “As the national trend on speed limits moves in the opposite direction with increasing variance, federal speed limiter efforts must at a minimum account for speed differentials and any potential safety risks that they can create.”

The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association told FreightWaves it opposes the speed limiter mandate, claiming speed limiters will not reduce crashes because most truck-related crashes occur on roads with posted speeds less than 65 mph. “To improve highway safety, we support minimum training standards that include behind the wheel time and flexibility in hours of service regulations.”

Supporters of the bill point out that a speed limiter mandate has been delayed by the federal government more than 20 times since it was first proposed in 2011. A comment period on a proposed rule from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration – which as written would only apply to new trucks – ended in November 2016, but no final action has been taken.

A speed limiter mandate was recently added to the most recent effort to raise the national standard for twin trailers from 28 to 33 feet as a safety incentive to gain support from lawmakers and safety advocates for increasing truck-hauling capacity.

The latest “twin 33” proposal, led by the Americans for Modern Transportation Coalition, would require that twin 33s be equipped with speed limiters set at 68 mph, along with on-board video event recorders, electronic stability control and automatic emergency braking.


  1. Scott

    When you people figure it out look at my dash cam and you tell me who needs to be limited. 30 years of driving and been in to accidents and the 4 wheels both were charged. Maybe we should just park all the trucks and the general public can count on the mega carriers to supply there freight needs. It should take about 3 days to figure out the back bone of trucking is the little guy

  2. James

    You all need to stop targeting us workers. We’re the main reason the United states of America can even operate. They’re already on the edge of an major shut down. That’s means no food in stores, no gas, no nothing being moved around. We’re out here providing for our families and theirs to. They’ll be the main ones crying when Walmart don’t have their items in stock. Come up with a program that’ll teach drivers in the cars how to drive around us. What to do and what not to do. No matter how fast or slow we go. There’s always an idiot that’s ready to jump in front of us at the last minute. I have cars pass me all day long running 90 to a 100 and a truck come through going 72 they want to pull us over. This trucking industry is jacked because of the main ones we’re leaving our families to provide for theirs.

  3. andy lebert

    I said this about the ELD law and I will say it again, the ONLY way to make trucks safe is to have safe drivers. The truck driving schools must be reformed. And the trucking companies need to do a better job in their training. I saw an add by JB Hunt and one other company that said they would hire you out of school and in 3 months you could be a driver trainer. Now that is scary. Most trucks already have speed limiters and if you are honest and look a the data you will see that they are having most of the accidents. You can’t make a truck safe with technology. It’s the driver. The reason the the large companies limit the speed of their trucks is for fuel mileage not for safety. And these trucking organizations don’t speak for all drivers, they speak for who ever has the money. An Arkansas Professor did a study on traffic doing different speeds and said it is unsafe. This is why Arkansas did away with their split speed limit rule and put trucks and cars at the same speed. I recommend that his study be looked at before any decision is made.

  4. M Williams

    Limiting trucks to 65 mph won’t Solve anything,when you people in cars that can go as fast as they want.
    And these big trucking companies will still try to force you to get the freight there on time,which
    In my opinion causes some of these accidents like Walmart ,a lot these produce companies the list goes on and go

  5. john

    limit how fast I can drive a truck I own I dont think so its not my fault or problem swift and mega carriers cant hire competent drivers and untill the motoring public is held to the same standards and rules my truck is nothing is going to change some 16 year old kid needs stopped for inspection fined hundreds of dollars and loose half a day getting repairs on the way to a dead end job at mcdonalds then and only then will anything change and for the record my trucks are set at 85 which is the max posted speed limit in my home state

  6. Ben

    Yeah limit professional drivers that are on the road everyday,those who are professionally trained,those with so much driving experience. And let people with no training or no proper training to drive faster. Foolishness.

Comments are closed.

John Gallagher

Based in Washington, D.C., John specializes in regulation and legislation affecting all sectors of freight transportation. He has covered rail, trucking and maritime issues since 1993 for a variety of publications based in the U.S. and the U.K. John began business reporting in 1993 at Broadcasting & Cable Magazine. He graduated from Florida State University majoring in English and business.