The Federal Motor Carrier Administration (FMCSA) is delaying the next step in the truck speed limiter rulemaking by postponing the release of a supplemental notice of proposed rulemaking (SNPRM).
Originally targeted for June, FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson recently said in an interview with Land Line, that the agency won’t release the SNPRM until the end of summer or early fall of 2023. This follows FMCSA announcing in May of 2022 that it was resurrecting plans to require carriers to equip big rigs with activated speed limiters.
Why the delay? To begin with, the speed limiter proposal generated 15,600 comments. FMCSA reads and catalogs each and every rulemaking comment. Even “form letters” are tallied.
But rulemakings amount to more than vote counts. FMCSA must also consider the content of the comments received. Effective comments use facts, data, and direct personal experience or cite relevant studies. Effective comments cause the regulatory agency to think through and respond to every element of the rulemaking proposal.
Taking the speed limiter rulemaking as an example, FMCSA must decide:
- What maximum truck speed – 60, 65, 68, 70 mph – should it propose?
- Will a higher speed limit require other technology, such as automatic emergency braking?
- Can drivers override the speed limiters, and in what circumstances?
- Will the speed limiters keep a record of actual driving speeds, and will that record be reviewable by law enforcement? Will speed limiters be required to communicate to roadside enforcement?
- How will law enforcement check for the presence and activation of the speed limiter? What penalties would apply to violations?
- Will a speed limiter mandate apply only to newly-manufactured trucks or to all commercial motor vehicles – and, in each case, as of what model year?
- Would a speed limiter mandate allow BYOD – Bring Your Own Device? Will FMCSA maintain a list of acceptable speed limiters, as it has for electronic logging devices, ELDs?
- What is the experience with speed limiters on trucks in other countries? Could speed limiters distract a truck driver from adjusting vehicle speed to current road and traffic conditions?
- Will the speed limiter rulemaking lay the technical groundwork, or even require, the deployment of “Intelligent Speed Assistance”, now required on new cars in Europe? These advanced speed assistance systems use GPS and street sign detection to automatically adjust vehicle speed to the local legal limit.
- How much time will manufacturers, motor carriers, truck drivers and law enforcement receive before the new rule takes effect?
- Will motor carriers who already equip their trucks with speed limiters receive extra time to adjust to the new rule?
That’s a long, but probably incomplete, list of the questions FMCSA will consider, as driven by the 15,600 comments. And even once the agency answers those questions, like every other regulatory agency, it will need to address the miscellaneous sections required in a final rule – compliance with various executive orders, evaluation of impact on states, tribes and localities, and compliance with the Paperwork Reduction Act.
All of this takes time… and FMCSA has 15,600 reasons to take more time on the speed limiter rulemaking.
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