NHTSA Considers Speed Limits on Larger Trucks

Natalie Josef
January 14, 2011

Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced that they were considering a rule that would require trucks that weigh over 26,000 pounds to be limited to 68 miles per hour.

According to the proposal, all newly manufactured trucks will be equipped with an electronic control module (ECM) that would limit the speed and be tamper-resistant. Additionally, every class 7 and 8 commercial motor vehicle manufactured after 1990 will be outfitted with an electronic engine speed governor.

This all came about after the American Trucking Association and Road Safe America, joined by a group of nine additional motor carriers, petitioned the NHTSA to generate a safety standard applicable to all trucks manufacturers after 1990. In a study of its own fleet, conducted by Schneider National, Inc., a major trucking company and one of the nine carriers involved in the petition, vehicles without speed limiters accounted for 40 percent of the company’s serious accidents, while only driving 17 percent of the fleet’s total miles. Schneider’s trucks have been limited to 65 miles per hour since 1996.

Also included with the petition were comments from private citizens who were involved or had friends/relatives who were involved in crashes with large trucks. These individuals stated that they were intimidated by hazardous driving practices by some truck drivers, including tailgating, abrupt lane changes, and speeding.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety commented that large trucks require 20 to 40 percent more braking distance than passenger cars. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) also concluded that 97 percent of the time, the passengers or driver in the other vehicle are killed, as opposed to the driver of the truck.

Now, I don’t know about you, but 68 miles per hour sounds like a lot to me. While it seems like a good cap, I am astonished that trucks are routinely going over 68 miles per hour, so much so, that the truck companies themselves are asking for the limits. I would assume that truck companies want trucks to go as fast as possible to deliver their goods as fast as possible.

The NHTSA plans to initiate the rule-making process beginning in 2012.


Natalie Josef

About the Author

Natalie Josef is an automotive expert at RepairPal, the leading online source of auto repair resources and estimates. With many ASE Master certified mechanics on staff who have decades of experience, RepairPal knows all the fine points of car repair.

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