New Speed Limits Coming to the Trucking Industry

trucking industry

If a few US Senators have their way, trucks that move LTL and FTL shipments across the continental US will be limited to 65 miles per hour.

Senator Johnny Isakson and Chris Cooksare behind a recently introduced resolution. A resolution that electronically restricts the top speed of commercial trucks regardless of the roads traveled. The overall aim is to make the trucking industry safer.

This resolution is The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019. While it is intended on serving as a “lifesaving road safety measure for heavy trucks by codifying a pending “speed limiter” rule, it has seen a fair share of backlash in response. 

Now, we say that it is a new resolution, but it is something that has been floating around the government for 10 years already. The new resolution, however, would require all new Class 7 and Class 8 commercial trucks to be equipped with speed limited devices. This is something that was not in the original bill, it is a revision. These devices would be set at a top speed maximum and would be active anytime the vehicle was in operation. 

Additionally, the new resolution, if passed, would extend the use of this speed limiting device to trucks that are already fitted with older speed limiters. 

This bill has met with harsh criticism in recent years. As a matter of fact, a lot of freight companies are starting to question the practicality of the whole endeavor.

So, what does this bill entail, and who will it affect the most? Let's dive in and take a peek at the hottest controversial rule in the logistics industry this year.


This Is Not the First Time the Trucking Industry has Faced This

This is not the first-time pending regulations with the trucking industry have seen stalled legislation. Due to endless revisions, attempts to activate these regulations has always fallen through the cracks.

Earlier this year, we talked a lot about the much anticipated ELD mandate. This was a prime example of exactly what we are talking about here. 

The ELD mandate aimed to outfit trucks with monitoring devices. The purpose behind this was to restrict the amount of on-road time a driver can work each day. However, it also still has yet to be fully implemented. The discussions of the ELD mandate caused thousands of trucking companies to invest millions of dollars on compliant equipment. Those companies are still waiting to find out if it was all for naught.

Having said that, there is more emotion backing this new resolution than what we saw with the ELD mandate.

According to the two bi-partisan Senators, this new resolution is named after a Cullen Owings. Cullen was a college student who was killed by a speeding commercial truck. It was this accident that led to his father Steve forming Road Safe America; a highway safety advocacy group. 

This resolution is also endorsed by Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) Foundation, The Trucking Alliance, Truckload Carriers Association, the Truck Safety Coalition, and Parents Against Tired Truckers. 

Many current fleets operate with speed limiting control devices, that range from 62 to 68 miles per hour. The inclusion of a 65 mile per hour speed limit is a reasonable maximum speed for highways across the US. 


The Opposition

On the other side of the debate are many truck manufacturers and commercial fleet companies. Their main concerns center around this speed limiting device increasing the potential of accidents. The main contention is due to other vehicles (which could legally drive up to 80 mph on several outlying highways away from metro areas) having to circumnavigate much slower trucks. The potential for accidents to occur in this scenario, they argue, is very high.

The pending legislation also introduces the question about why older trucks would be ‘grandfathered’ into this legislation. Many opponents argue that older trucks pose a higher risk of accidents. They have older brake and safety systems, causing an extended stopping distance in the case of emergency situations. In that regard, a speed limiter actually does very little to prevent an accident.

While they agree that a speed limit for commercial traffic could possibly save lives, their main contention is wondering why newer fleets or larger commercial trucking companies are being singled out to install these devices. But that is not the only argument about the legitimacy of the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019. 

There is also a lot of confusion about the research backing up these claims. American Trucking Associations President and CEO Chris Spear slammed that proposal for its lack of specificity and the actual depth of research backing it up. 

Nevertheless, the US Federal Government’s history of slowly implementing resolutions targeted to the trucking industry. Whether or not this resolution will pass, be signed by the President, and actually becomes a mandate remains a complete mystery.

And all we can do for now is watch how it all unfolds.