A potential new rule in the United States which would require heavy-duty trucks to use speed limiters while operating has passed the preliminary stages for policy-making. The new rule will be finalized likely within the next few weeks and will then soon be put into practice later in the year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) proposed that heavy trucks and other heavy-duty vehicles should be mandated to have speed limiting technology installed as well as setting maximum engine speeds on U.S. highways.

The proposal offers three different options for maximum speed settings, 60, 65, and 68 miles per hour (97, 105, and 110 kilometres respectively). The proposal also states the policy can be changed in the future to include other speeds as per public input. The speed limiting devices would be installed in all newly manufactured trucks with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 lbs.

Motor carriers operating between states or Canadian-owned carriers operating between Canada and the U.S. are expected to bear the responsibility of maintaining the speed limiting technology in the new trucks for the foreseeable life of the vehicles.

The American proposal is follows in the footsteps of similar ones that already exist in Ontario and Quebec. The two provinces were the first in North America to introduce speed limiters, which would set trucks to 105 kph (approximately 65 miles per hour).

Implementing speed limiting devices on trucks and also establishing a maximum speed for engines could also save an estimated $1.1 billion in fuel costs and millions of gallons of fuel annually, according to some research by the NHTSA and FMCSA.

Not only would limiting the speed of some trucks save trucking companies money, but it could have a positive impact on the number of crashes and fatalities involving trucks that occur. The proposal looks at research data that suggests with speed limiters, crashes would happen less often, and when they do occur, they would be less severe and less likely to be fatal.

The rule is newly submitted to the U.S. Federal Register, and is currently undergoing a 60 day review process where the public can submit suggestions and concerns. Implementing the speed limiting rules is likely still years away. The proposal outlines a suggested timeline of September 2020 for beginning enforcement.