With the debate about how to fund the US interstate system already raging, there may be another big highway controversy on the horizon. The US Department of Transportation might slow down some of the vehicles on the nation's roads by mandating speed governors on semi trucks.

According to insurance industry magazine Claims Journal, the proposal appeared in the DOT's March 2014 "Report of Significant Rulemaking." It would force big rigs weighing over 26,000 pounds to use speed governors with an unspecified limit. ​Many trucking companies already fit their tractor trailers with limiters, but they aren't obligated to. This isn't the first attempt at putting a max speed on semis. Organizations like the American Trucking Association previously suggested a 68 mph max for new trucks.

Other truckers aren't so happy about the possible change. According to Claims Journal, the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association has come out against the new rule. It argues that speed differential is the dangerous factor, not outright velocity, and believes that it's better to keep all traffic traveling at a roughly equal rate. Also, if all tractor trailers are governed to the same speed, it makes passing very difficult, the association argues.

By lowering the semis' speed, the DOT hopes to curb accidents by reducing the trucks' stopping distance. There is currently a big push to make big rigs safer. The National Transportation Safety Board and National Highway Traffic Safety Administration have recently published independent sets of suggested regulations for them. NHTSA also wants to mandate stability control on tractor trailers. Other countries that require limiters note that slower speeds also improve fuel economy.

Keep in mind, this is still a proposal and in the earliest stages. Claims Journal says the rule first has to be approved by Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx and then cleared by Office of Management and Budget in the White House. If it makes it that far, it could be published as a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking in October. According to the DOT's website, there would likely be about 60 days of public comment. From there, if published, it couldn't go into effect for a minimum of 30 days. That is a lot of time for things to change and a lot of hurdles to jump over before any tractor trailer is fitted with a mandated governor.


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  • 139 Comments
      bluehorseshoe87
      • 1 Year Ago
      I constantly see trucks doing 75-85 mph on I-80. Most of the national trucking firms are governed at 60-65 mph...it's the independent operators that are usually driving aggressively. Simple solution is to govern all trucks to about 72 mph and set truck speed limits to 65. There is no reason for any large rig to be doing 80+.
      Hooman
      • 1 Year Ago
      Its easy to blame truckers for poor driving when the reality is actually much more complex. Truck (CDL licensed) drivers often receive hundreds of hours of advanced driver training. The average driver receives very little in comparison. Most drivers on the road don't have any type of formal training. Statistics show that licensed truck drivers are far more safer per hours spent on the road than ordinary drivers. I support truck drivers and appreciate their hard work. Without truck drivers, your local stores would be empty. What most people don't understand is that when the government issues such biased statements its not for safety or efficiency. Its often a knee-jerk political reaction. Another comment referenced the increased use of railroads for shipping. Our rail infrastructure is already at capacity and in poor condition. Environmental regulations have hampered the construction of new rail lines. Most citizens including wealthy liberals don't want a railroad built in their backyards.
      SpikedLemon
      • 1 Year Ago
      Trucks are limited in many countries. Ontario-based trucks are (supposed to be) limited to 60mph. While there are a number of elephant races which get old quickly when you want to pass: it's a non-issue in the end.
      errolw22@yahoo.com
      • 1 Year Ago
      i drove over the road back in the late 90s and people would pass me reading books magazines news papers i would say to myself god please keep them safe lol and they wonder who is safe driver out there???
      ScottT
      • 1 Year Ago
      Setting a standard national speed limit across the board doesn't make any sense unless the entire point is to reduce fuel usage. A truck going 75 mph on I-90 through Montana is probably going to be much safer than a truck going 65 on I-695 around DC.
      Greg Logan
      • 1 Year Ago
      What we need to do is teach the drivers of cars is how to drive and interact with big trucks because they cause 75% of the crashes out there according to "AAA" reports. True we don't need to be going 75mph down the road but neither do the cars, which they usually drive 10 mph over the speed limit anyway.
      Camrunr
      • 1 Year Ago
      I recently drove from LA to the Grand Canyon via I40. I was kinda shocked at how fast the trucks were moving. 85 MPH was common, with a few pushing 90+. Not a fan of going crazy with speed limits, but having an interstate full of tractor-trailer rigs doing 85 MPH seems like a bad idea.
      Rock
      • 1 Year Ago
      first off any politician that wants to further regulate trucks needs to ride at least a thousand miles in one on an open interstate and then city traffic first!.....then they will see that if all trucks are regulated to all the same speed the fast lanes on the interstates will be jammed up with trucks taking a verrrryyyy long time to pass each other, backed up traffic waiting to get around one slow truck trying to pass another slow truck will cause a lot of pissed off drivers behind them and will skyrocket the frustration levels for all drivers, that I can guarantee !...you will see accidents and road rage skyrocket not only for truck drivers but all drivers, trust me !
      lne937s
      • 1 Year Ago
      In Germany, trucks are restricted to the far right lane and have a 90 kph (54 mph) speed limit. Then you have the limiters in place in order to accelerate for passing an emergencies at 68 mph. Something similar could work here (and potentially allow for faster speed limits for cars, like it does there). Cars can accelerate and stop faster. Fundamentally, it is about physics. KE= 1/2 MV^2. With kinetic energy going up exponentially with velocity, at 70 mph, you have to dissipate almost twice as much energy through braking as you do at 50 mph-- braking distances can more than double. The added mass of a semi makes it harder to brake. In addition, it takes more energy to accelerate that mass. And wind resistance goes up exponentially. Not to mention that you can reduce the mass of the vehicle because you do not need as large of an engine to bring it up to speed or as big of brakes to slow it down. And the road damage from Semis would be reduced, as well.
        Hooman
        • 1 Year Ago
        @lne937s
        Good points but you must understand that the American interstate system is very different than the "autobahns" in Germany. The American interstate system lends to higher speeds and shorter acceleration zones. You therefore require a much higher torque/horsepower engine. Additionally, a slower moving truck causes significant traffic delays. That results in unsafe passing by motorists.
      tegdesign
      • 1 Year Ago
      They should also add an Interstate hwy law that says on hyws with more than two lanes, big rigs are never allowed in the far left lane. I see semis in the far left lane in WA all the time now and no one seems to drive in the far right lane anymore.
        montoym
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tegdesign
        To be fair, a similar law exists for regular commuters as well and is just as often ignored. The left lane is for passing. If there's no one within 500ft of you, then get out of the left lane.
        jonnybimmer
        • 1 Year Ago
        @tegdesign
        Wait, isn't this already the law? Or does it change state by state? Here in CA they're never allowed in the far left on hwys 3+ lanes wide unless there's an upcoming interchange or incident where they have to be in a certain lane.
          tegdesign
          • 1 Year Ago
          @jonnybimmer
          If it is the law then it's not followed or enforced.
      Will
      • 1 Year Ago
      And radar assisted cruise should keep them spaced at least 5 truck length apart so cars can easily move around then.
      amge5.5
      • 1 Year Ago
      I'm for a governor. But develop something like a kers system that allows them a momentarily speed increase to pass other trucks faster.
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