The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) is ramping up its opposition to mandate speed limiters on heavy trucks.
OOIDA’s move comes after several rival trucking associations—representing large companies, mostly—are backing a proposed truck speed limiter mandate in the U.S. as legislators attempt to block such rules.
They’re all looking to Canada to help make their point.
Ontario Ministry of Transportation data shows the number of truck drivers found at fault for speeding in a collision dropped 72.7% after that province mandated speed limiters in 2009. Ontario and neighboring Quebec limit heavy truck speeds to 105 km/h (around 65 mph).
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed its speed limiter rule in April 2022. But efforts in the House and Senate are looking to derail such plans. The related Deregulating Restrictions on Interstate Vehicles and Eighteen-Wheelers (DRIVE) Act was introduced earlier this month in the Senate.
The Truck Safety Coalition, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Trucking Alliance, Road Safe America and National Safety Council say they are “steadfastly opposed” to the DRIVE Act.
On the other side are OOIDA and a number of smaller state trucking associations including one in Montana, which is known for not having speed limits on rural highways in that state. They include the Montana Trucking Association, Western State Trucking Association and National Association of Small Trucking Companies who support the DRIVE Act.
“About 98% of the 62,000 trucks operated by Trucking Alliance carriers already use speed limiters, because it’s safe for our drivers,” Steve Williams, CEO of Maverick USA and president of The Trucking Alliance, said in a statement.
“The science is clear,” Williams added. “It takes an 80,000-pound tractor trailer rig much farther to stop when going 80 miles per hour (129 km/h) than it does at 65 or 70 miles per hour (105 or 113 km/h). Everybody needs to slow down and allowing FMCSA to pursue its rulemaking is the right thing to do.”
Trucking is under fire for its role in the rising number of highway deaths. Deaths linked to truck crashes have increased 71% since 2009. Excess speed continues to be a contributing factor. Citing U.S. Department of Transportation data, the safety groups say 20% of fatal truck crashes occur above 70 mph (113 km/h).
The number of fatal crashes where speeding is identified as a driver-related factor has increased 50% since 2009, according to the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS).
“Speed kills. Thousands of lives have been lost due to speeding semis, and I urge all members of Congress to reject the DRIVE Act that will enable this tragic loss of life to continue,” said Pam Biddle, a member of the Truck Safety Coalition and Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways board.
Trucks using speed limiters were in half as many high-speed collisions as those not using speed limiters, according to the Journal of Intelligent Transportation Systems.
National survey results show Americans overwhelmingly agree on speed limiter usage in large trucks, with 79% of likely voters in support, according to data provided by the Trucking Alliance.
Road Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety President Cathy Chase says, “At a time when commercial motor vehicle crash fatalities and injuries are skyrocketing, our nation’s leaders should be taking action to make the roads safer for all road users, not hampering the use of proven safety solutions like speed limiters.”
“This legislation (limiting speed limiters) is ill-advised at best and deadly at worst,” Chase added.
“It is absurd that the United States still lags behind the majority of the civilized world in not requiring the use of built-in speed limiters in the heaviest vehicles,” Steve Owings, co-founder of Road Safe America, said in a statement provided by The Trucking Alliance.
OOIDA counters that by saying state departments of transportation are better positioned to make decisions on heavy truck speeds. OOIDA also claims the system of paying long-haul truck drivers by the mile – rather than an hourly wage – is the underlying factor behind the impetus of truck drivers to disobey speed limits.
“If they were truly concerned, they would pay their drivers by the hour and reduce the pressure to speed in locations where it’s clearly unsafe,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said recently.