Agency Consulting With NHTSA on Controversial Issue
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration is delaying until May a controversial proposal to require speed limiters on heavy-duty trucks, according to a regulatory update released late last month.
FMCSA did not state a reason for the delay in the update, published Jan. 28, and has not indicated how long a potential rulemaking on the matter might take before reaching the final rule stage. The proposal has been percolating for years.
“FMCSA intends to proceed with a motor carrier-based speed limiter rulemaking by preparing a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking to follow up on the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s and FMCSA’s jointly issued Sept. 7, 2016, notice of proposed rulemaking on this subject,” the agency said. FMCSA said it is continuing to engage in “subsequent consultation” with NHTSA, and will consider whether additional regulatory actions should be taken “concerning CMV manufacturer requirements.”
FMCSA has not revealed how high a limit it would set for a truck’s top speed. However, it has detailed which trucks would be subject to a potential law. The limiters would be required for trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds engaged in interstate commerce, and would be equipped with an electronic engine control unit capable of governing the maximum allowable speed for the service life of the vehicle, FMCSA said.
In a sampling of the more than 15,000 public comments on the agency’s earlier notice of intent on the proposal, large motor carriers and trade associations indicated general support contingent on what the top speed turns out to be. However, a large number of small truckers and independent owner-operators said limiting speeds would be unsafe and have a negative effect on their businesses.
Dan Horvath, senior vice president of regulatory affairs and safety policy for American Trucking Associations, said ATA’s position is inclusive of speed limiters used in concert with safety technology.
“We’re waiting to see what FMCSA proposes,” he said. “Our current policy is 70 mph with the use of automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. From what our fleets have told us, they’ve seen a better safety benefit when you’re coupling speed limiters and automatic emergency braking, and generally safety technologies.”
This aligns with another joint FMCSA/NHTSA proposal.
Last June, FMCSA announced plans to issue a joint final rulemaking with NHTSA on a proposal to require and/or standardize equipment performance for automatic emergency braking systems on heavy trucks. This rulemaking is expected to establish performance standards and motor carrier maintenance requirements for AEB systems on heavy trucks, along with accompanying test procedures for measuring the performance of the systems in NHTSA compliance testing.
Separately, NHTSA has launched a preliminary evaluation into a series of complaints involving AEB systems on certain Freightliner Cascadia trucks. In a June announcement, the NHTSA Office of Defects Investigation said it had received 18 questionnaires that indicate “errors in the automatic emergency braking system” on certain 2017-2022 Freightliner Cascadias. A NHTSA spokeswoman said last month the investigation has not yet been completed.
The Jan. 28 FMCSA update also noted that the agency has delayed until June of 2025 plans to issue a proposed rule to revise the way it determines a carrier’s fitness determination. Plans call for the agency to seek public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate. In addition, regulators are seeking information on how FMCSA might use data and resources more effectively to identify unfit motor carriers and to remove them from the nation’s roadways, and seeking public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, to determine carrier fitness.
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