A congresswoman from Georgia is joining with a colleague across the aisle to push a bill that would limit the speed of heavy commercial trucks on roadways across the country and mandate devices in vehicles made after 1992.
Congresswoman Lucy McBath of Georgia’s 6th Congressional district and Republican Congressman John Katko of New York filed legislation to convert a current federal agency rule into a permanent law.
The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act would codify into law a “speed limiter” rule that has been under consideration for more than a decade. The bill is named for 22-year old Atlanta resident Cullum Owings, who was killed in a car-truck collision in 2002 while returning to college. The legislation was long-championed by former Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson and is endorsed by the Truckload Carriers Association, the Trucking Alliance, AAA, the Institute for Safer Trucking, Road Safe America, and the Safe Operating Speed Alliance.
McBath said the bill, if passed, would “support efforts to improve safety, enhance fuel efficiency, and reduce the occurrence of these often fatal crashes.” The text of the bill is not yet available to the public, but last year’s version of the measure is available here.
“The safety and security of our families, our friends, and our loved ones is always of the utmost priority,” McBath said in a press release. “The Owings family has done so much to protect other children like Cullum and I want to thank them for all they have done. No family in America should ever have to experience the same pain of losing a loved one so needlessly. This is an important, bipartisan stop to make our roadways safer, protect drivers, and stop these heartbreaking crashes from happening.”
“Millions of motorists are within a few feet of 80,000 pound tractor trailer rigs each day and there is no reason why that equipment should be driven at 75 or 80 or 85 miles per hour,” said Steve Williams, chairman and CEO of Maverick USA in Little Rock, Ark., co-founder and president of the Trucking Alliance and also a former chairman of the American Trucking Associations. “This legislation will reduce the severity of large truck crashes and make the nation’s roadways safer for our drivers and all of us.”
Not everyone is on board, though. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association voiced its opposition to the technology and the legislation earlier in 2021, saying, “OOIDA has long opposed efforts to mandate speed-limiting devices because they make roads less safe. Speed limiters increase congestion and speed differentials between trucks and cars, which ultimately lead to more crashes. Additionally, arbitrary speed limits make it difficult for truck drivers to switch lanes to accommodate merging traffic at entrance ramps – or to merge themselves.”
As reported by Logistics Management, the use of speed limiters is based on what OOIDA calls “unfounded data” that will likely detract from highway safety. In actuality, OOIDA says, highways are safest when all vehicles travel at the same relative speed.
“Studies and research have already proven what we were all taught long ago in driver’s ed classes – traffic is safest when vehicles travel at the same relative speed,” OOIDA President Todd Spencer said in a statement. “What the motoring public should know is that when they are stuck behind trucks on long stretches of highway, those trucks are limited by a device to a speed well under the posted limit. This proposal would make that the norm for every truck on the road.”
Backers of the bill rely on a 2007 survey of truck drivers by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety that determined that 64 percent of the drivers were in favor of a speed-limiting requirement.