Proposal to limit semitruck speeds revs up criticism

  • A proposal aims to require speed limit devices on big rigs
  • A former truck driver thinks it may cause more crashes
  • One lawmaker thinks it’s federal government overreach

(NewsNation) — The Department of Transportation may soon require speed limit devices on big rigs in an effort to make roads safer, but a former truck driver worries it may do the opposite.

The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration within the Department of Transportation is pushing to add the speed limiters to certain big rigs.

The proposal asking for comments from May of last year calls for commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight of more than 26,000 pounds to be capable of having their maximum speeds governed. Officials want trucks meeting the criteria to be equipped with devices that would keep them from going more than 60-65 miles per hour. An exact speed has not yet been decided.

Lewie Pugh was behind the wheel of a big rig for 25 years. Now, as the executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, he fears speed limiters in semitrucks will have a “reverse effect” and cause more crashes since there could be more interactions between commercial vehicles and cars.

“The more interactions you have, the more crashes,” Pugh told “On Balance” host Leland Vittert on Tuesday evening.

Pugh said there have been 16,000 comments sent to transportation officials urging them not to add speed limiters due to “how unsafe it is.”

“That’s the problem we have in our government today. They don’t spend enough time listening to the men and women out there on the road driving the trucks. Those are the people who safety matters to more than anyone. To them, the roads are their office,” Pugh said.

Aside from safety, Pugh thinks adding speed limiters may make the U.S. supply chain less efficient.

“That’s the thing that gets me,” Pugh said. “If you make all these trucks go 60 miles per hour, the supply chain will get much more inefficient. That means we’re going to have to have more trucks to haul the same amount of goods, which will increase congestion.”

Pugh isn’t the only one concerned with the possibly of speed limiting devices. Rep. Josh Brecheen, R-Okla., introduced a measure to fight the proposal.

HR 3039 or the DRIVE Act aims to prohibit the FMCSA from issuing a rule requiring certain vehicles to be equipped with the speed limiting devices.

“This overreach by the Biden Administration has the potential to negatively impact all facets of the agricultural and trucking industries. I know from experience driving a semi while hauling equipment, and years spent hauling livestock, that the flow of traffic set by state law is critical for safety instead of an arbitrary one-size-fits-all speed limit imposed by some bureaucrat sitting at his desk in Washington, D.C.,” said Brecheen. “This rule will add one more needless burden.”

The American Trucking Associations supports a set maximum speed of 70 miles per hour in trucks furnished with automatic emergency braking and adaptive cruise control. In trucks without those features, the group believes a maximum speed should be set at 65 miles per hour.

On Balance with Leland Vittert

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