Although most private fleets already use speed limiting devices, the National Private Truck Council (NPTC) refused to endorse a petition to mandate that all carriers use such devices.
"The industry and the agencies must complete a significant amount of additional study before concluding that such a mandate would be sound policy," NPTC said in comments filed yesterday with the Federal Highway Administration and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
In response to petitions filed last fall, both agencies are looking into the possibility of requiring devices that would limit the speed of trucks with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of greater than 26,000 pounds to no more than 68 mph.
The petitions contend that reducing speed-related crashes involving trucks is critical to the safety mission of both NHTSA and FMCSA, and that these new requirements are necessary in order to reduce the number and severity of crashes involving large trucks.
NPTC noted that most private fleets voluntarily use speed limiting devices. Such equipment has been standard equipment on commercial motor vehicle engines for approximately 15 years, and carriers may already set the devices at whatever speed management decides is appropriate.
"NPTC members make considered decisions as to what miles per hour standard to set their speed limiting devices based on the company's safety policy and history, the nature of their vehicles and distribution operations, and the location of their traffic lanes," the association noted.
Furthermore, "A vehicle that might be operated in heavy traffic on Interstate 95 on the East Coast one week might be traversing Interstate 94 in Montana the following week. This is one safety issue that demands that carriers consider specific policy responses to needs of their company's operations, and not a one-size-fits-all policy imposed by the federal government."
The real issue of excessive speeding by motor carrier drivers should be addressed by enhanced enforcement of current speed limits at the state and local level, NPTC said. "NPTC would support increased use of funding to state and local governments under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program to buttress enforcement of posted speed limits."
Finally, NPTC expressed concern that a retrofit requirement of electronic speed governors on all heavy-duty commercial trucks manufactured back to 1990 would pose a particular hardship on carriers using older equipment. NPTC urged the agencies to consider not merely the cost of retrofits, but how such a requirement would impact the actual operation of engines that are 17 years old.
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