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US Transportation Agencies Submit Proposal to Limit Heavy Duty Truck Speeds

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On August 26th, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, and the Department of Transportation issued a notice of a proposed new regulation which would require automakers to equip Heavy Duty Trucks with electronic speed limiters. This is largely an action to increase the safety of motorists in the event of a crash, as impact force increases relative to speed, especially if the vehicle in question is a semi with a trailer attached that has difficulty stopping quickly no matter what.

Basically, the agencies argue, to lower the risk of deaths in crashes with heavy duty vehicles, simply limit the speed of the heavy duty vehicles.

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This has other benefits for trucks, though, especially since earlier this month the government passed new regulations requiring trucks and buses (by some estimates some of the worst polluters on the road) to reduce their carbon dioxide emissions by 25%. Limiting speed would both limit extra fuel spent maintaining higher speeds and the need for trucks to stomp on the brakes and accelerate back up to speed.

This wouldn’t be a law to limit the speed of anything called “heavy duty,” of course—this would only affect new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds. The NHTSA hasn’t settled on a speed to set the limiter at, but is mulling over the costs and benefits of slowing heavy duty vehicles to 60, 65, or 68 mph.

Interestingly, trucking organizations seem to be on board, with the American Trucking Association telling that “Speed is a factor in a third of all vehicle crashes and 23 percent of all truck crashes, so slowing our vehicles down can have tremendous safety benefits.” In other words, at least the ATA seems willing to sacrifice some driving time for safer roads.

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News Sources: Jalopnik, USDOT