The Department of Transportation’s latest Significant Rulemaking Report shows various actions it wants to implement in governing safety on the road.
Speed Limiters on the Table
The Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) wants to continue considering applying speed limiters to trucks with electronic control units.
FMCSA Administrator Robin Hutcheson knows how grossly unpopular the concept of speed limiters are, but believes the safety benefits will outweigh the negatives. In regards to the public comments on previous notices regarding speed limiters, Hutcheson said in a statement: “We need to be diligent about sifting through the comments, reading the comments, understanding the comments. That is what we’re doing now. We are working through the comments that we have received.”
Automatic Emergency Braking
The FMCSA and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration are planning to jointly issue a notice of proposed rulemaking to require automatic braking on heavy trucks when the technological system detects an object within a specified range of the truck given its speed, and wants to do tests on the metrics for automatic braking. The notice is expected to be published by January 30th.
Perhaps the most worrying suggestion by the FMCSA is an advance notice of proposed rulemaking to gather data to determine, based on the carrier’s driving habits, who is at a higher risk for an accident and may need to be removed from the road.
“FMCSA would seek public comment about the use of available safety data, including inspection data, in determining carrier fitness to operate,” FMCSA said in its statement. “The agency would also seek public input on possible changes to the current three-tier safety fitness rating structure. The action would also include a review of the list of Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations that the agency uses in its safety fitness rating methodology.”
This begs the question as to what extent the FMCSA will use the data to determine who or what makes a high safety risk, but that exercise is left to the reader.
One pattern that you may have noticed is that all three of the above proposals require extensive uses of technology. While it might seem on the surface that driving and older truck would make a driver exempt from these technological features, an electronic control unit exists on almost all heavy-duty trucks, and that percentage increases every day as older trucks slowly make their way to truck heaven.
Only time will tell if the unpopularity regarding these regulations will cause the FMCSA to kick the cans down the road until a later time, repeating the same song and dance in 2024.
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