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US senators propose 65 mph truck speed limiters

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.

The FREIGHTWAVES TOP 500 For-Hire Carriers list includes Knight-Swift Transportation (No. 3), J.B. Hunt (No. 4) and U.S. Xpress (No. 13).


  1. Oh yes, that’s what we need, longer trailers and slower trucks. Then the world will be safe! Of course the roads will be so congested that no one can go anywhere, and cars will be running into the back of trucks, or down thru the median. Or driving on the shoulder of the road to get around, and causing more fatalities…….oh yes! That’s the answer, 65 mph trucks and longer trailers. It’s obviously never dawned on them that better training might be an option! We are becoming a Communist country, little by little, one eld and speed limiter at a time.

  2. And the argument most crashes are below 65 is a load of crap. Most crashes happen because you super truckers ride people’s bumper. No excuse for following too close.
    Getting that close doesn’t get you there faster. It reduces your stopping reaction and distance.
    I know because you guys run up on me and instead of changing lanes early you would rather nearly run into or over me and then sometimes make gestures.

  3. All you speedy truckers don’t need to run faster than 65-70.
    Racing the clock is an unprofessional excuse made up by those that ran illegal on paper. Trip planning and clock management is what you need to learn. I’m a truck driver, restricted to 65 and been on elogs since I got my CDL. I have no issue with making my deliveries on time.

    1. That’s your problem, it’s all you know. I’ve been driving for 30 years with no accidents and my trucks have never been limited.

  4. Look at any state that has split speed limits and you will see a rise in accidents. Trucks in states like CA, OR and WA have set speed limits of 55 mph, while the speed limits for cars range from 60 to 70 mph depending on the area of the state. You see cars cut off trucks all the time because the drivers of the cars are mad that the trucks are holding them up, I have always been an advocate of all vehicles running the same speed limit, it’s safer for everyone. I agree with several of the prior comments that people in cars need more training to understand a truck can’t just stop on a dime and cutting them off is a good way to end up in the morgue. I own a small trucking company and we do govern out trucks, but not at 65, its too slow and dangerous when the cars are doing 75 to 85 mph.

  5. I already have speed technology, a cruise control… I think I’ll set it at 55 mph and show them what will happen.
    Hopefully more folks will participate and give some medicine back.

  6. Ontario based trucks are set at 65mph by law, it has saved us on fuel but I do not believe it is safe for a number of reasons. Stats would show if I am right or wrong.
    If safety groups want safer trucks they should push for mandatory disk brakes, we put disk brakes on all our trucks and trailers for public safety. I think disc brakes have been around for many decades, proven to save lives yet no one seems to care. If a truck is doing 65 or 75 or even 50mph you want to know it can stop quickly, right now with the ancient brake set up on most trucks and trailers they cant. So how about we go after the real safety concerns first STOPPING!

  7. trying to control one sector of vehicles is not the solution to the problem. I believe majority of people are influenced by others actions. One person goes by in a car doing 85mph well guess what before you know it you have 5,10 right behind him. Or your passing someone in the left doing about 5 over and there is someone flying up on your rear doing 20 over. either you speed up and get over quickly and possibly cut someone off your you be an ass and stay in the left lane from what I see most people do just to be a prick. where do you think that leads to road rage, high driving speeds brake checks and like accidents.
    I say leave peoples speeds but make people aware that speed limits are there for a reason and do automatic speed ticket cameras.
    You might speed a few times but once you get a few of those tickets in the mail well guess what you will probably slow down.
    think about the Kids in cars. Our children should not pay with there lives for the dumb adult decisions we make behind that wheel.
    it works in other countries like germany why not do it here. might not be perfect but it does save lives
    Just my opinion.

    1. Speeding is out of control in 4 wheelers.

      Ungoverned owner ops are slowing down voluntarily to save $$s these days.

      The 65 mph governed trucks (fedex) are blowing through construction zones at full throttle.

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.