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Until Further Notice – The Maximum Truck Speed Bill Continues to Hit Delays

A bill that would set a maximum speed limit for commercial trucks by using speed-limiting devices has once again been put on hold.

In June, U.S. senators Johnny Isakson (R-GA), and Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 that would require all new and existing commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more to be equipped with speed-limiting devices set to a maximum speed of 65 mph during operation.

If you’re aware of the history of the proposed bill, it probably comes as no surprise that it continues to hit road blocks.

It’s been more than a decade since the American Trucking Association (ATA), along with safety advocacy groups, first introduced the idea of installing speed-limiting devices in trucks. When the ATA first proposed using speed-limiting devices, they suggested a maximum speed of 68 mph.

We all know that this proposed bill is designed to keep our roadways safer by eliminating speeding commercials vehicles, but if passed, how much of an impact could this bill really make? Well, according to Cathy Chase, president of Advocates for Highway and Auto, more than 1,000 lives are lost annually due to speeding commercial vehicles. This bill aims to reduce that figure.

The bill is named after Cullum Owings, who died on his way back to college after being struck by a speeding truck. His father, Steve Owings, started the foundation Road Safe America, to help support backing for a bill that would require heavy trucks to use speed-limiting devices.

So why do talks of this bill continue to be stopped in its tracks? For starters, when the ATA first announced its proposal, it took quite some time for it gain traction and be seriously considered. It wasn’t until 2016 that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration took a hard look into the matter.

And, when they did, they wanted to analyze the effects of setting maximum speeds at 60, 65, and 68 mph, so naturally, the process dragged out a bit longer.

Plus, not everyone in the industry is in-favor for the bill. Some believe that divergences between commercial vehicles with speed restrictions and other traffic could impose safety hazards on its own. Long story short, more delays. In fact, proposals for this bill have been delayed more than 20 times.

So now, after a maximum speed of 65 mph was agreed upon and other details of the bill, were sorted out, all the ‘talk’ about proposing a bill came together. It appeared a big step had been made. But soon after the bill came to life, the Department of Transportation removed it from the active rulemakings list and added it to a long-term item list. So, while a bill is at least in writing, who knows how long it’ll take to be voted on.