NY Senator tells FMCSA to act fast on speed limiters

An influential New York senator Sunday, Oct. 16 called on the federal government to act quickly on a proposal to require all heavy-duty trucks to be fitted with speed limiting technology.

Sen. Charles Schumer, a Democrat and the state’s senior senator, is asking the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration to act swiftly to finalize a proposed rule that would mandate speed limiters — aka governors — on vehicles weighing over 26,000 pounds.

New York Sen. Charles SchumerNew York Sen. Charles Schumer

“For every New York City driver or commuter who has been next to or in the crosshairs of a speeding big rig, a technology like this can’t come fast enough,” said Schumer at a media event Sunday, Oct. 16. “Trucks, and large buses that barrel down our roads unsafely put everyone in danger, but now that we have a sensible technology that can make extreme truck and bus speeds a thing of the past, we must push the feds to accelerate its swift adoption. New York City bridges are just a few of New York’s big rig attraction sites, and so, capping speed in a safe and reasonable way will make everyday drivers safer.”

The American Trucking Associations recently withdrew its support of the current proposed speed limiter rule, and reiterated its request that the public comment period be extended another 30 days.

ATA President and CEO Chris Spear called the proposed rule “flawed” and said, “Despite ATA’s decade-old, pro-safety policy on speed, the new joint rulemaking from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and Federal Motor Carrier Administration proposes a menu of three speed options for commercial trucks, not one. It provides insufficient data, and fails to make a recommendation regarding which of the three proposed speeds it believes is best and why.”

In the proposed rule, the NHTSA and FMCSA included three possible speeds: 60, 65 and 68 mph, and asked the industry and the public for comments.

Schumer recently sent a letter to FMCSA Administrator F. Scott Darling and NHTSA Administrator Mark R. Rosekind that said:

“I write to you today to both applaud your efforts to commence a rulemaking on truck speed limiters and urge you to finalize this rule as quickly as possible. As you know, truck speed limiters, if implemented safely, have the potential to save hundreds of lives and prevent thousands of crashes. While most truck drivers and other heavy vehicle operators operate safely, truck speed limiters can help prevent the handful of dangerous actors from inflicting high-speed damage on our roadways.

“I appreciate the need to have a careful and thorough rulemaking process, but feel strongly that your agencies should do everything they can to move through this process and finalize this common sense rule as quickly as possible. I’d also urge your agencies to work closely with truck drivers to ensure that the rule is implemented in a way that still allows them to safely merge and operate their vehicles.

“Throughout New York State we have had a long-history with high-speed truck related crashes. In 2014 alone, there were 10,742 police-reported large truck crashes, 74 of which were fatal and 990 of which were related to unsafe speed. While truck speed limiters will not prevent all crashes, they will certainly significantly reduce both the number and severity of these accidents. It’s for these reasons that I urge your agencies to move swiftly to finalize this rule.”