Joint Agency Effort to Issue New Rule

Kevin Anderson Regulations, Transportation

A new rule is in the works for trucking companies, and it will affect them across the country in a big way. The proposal is being made by both the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. After studying the issue of large truck safety and speeds, the two agencies are proposing a rule to force all new trucks to have a speed governor on their trucks.

This new rule is another in a long line of recent rules are are increasingly seeking to regulate, monitor, and control how big trucks are owned and operated across the country. If this rule goes into effect, it will limit the speed of new trucks to 60, 65, or 68 miles per hour. While this sounds like a good idea to those making the rules, the practical application of it is garnering a number of critics.

Those critics are led by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association which issued a statement on the heels of the rule being announced. The basic idea of their statement was that putting speed governors on trucks will actually have the opposite of the intended effect, and act as a danger to the roadways. As the argument goes, forcing a large truck to drive at a lower speed will cause more congestion on the road, impatient drivers, and dangerous passing conditions for fellow vehicles.

Rulemaking Authority and Specifics

The two companies issued a 118-page proposal on the rule that can be found here. The purported legal basis for the new rule is found in the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. That federal law, found in 49 U.S.C. Chapter 301 mandates that the Secretary of Transportation promulgate rules that:

  1. are practicable;
  2. meet the need for motor vehicle safety; and,
  3. are state in objective terms.

As you can see, this is broad rulemaking authority that Congress has essentially ceded to the Secretary of Transportation. Of course, there are other factors that must go into the making of a rule, like the fact that the agency must consider all relevant and available data on vehicle safety. But given enough time, any agency can tease out the factors needed to justify the passing of a rule.

The rule will not apply to current vehicles, but it will apply to new trucks with a gross vehicle rating of more than 26,000 lbs. In effect, it will apply to all new semi trucks that companies invest in to do their business of hauling America’s goods from one state to another. With any rule like these, though, there are always concerns about the unintended consequences of passing such an encompassing rule. For example, will companies want to continue to invest in new equipment that has limits like this on them? Will that affect jobs, safety of trucks in other ways, and what will it do to traffic patterns across the country in an already run-down infrastructure?

Understanding Transportation Laws

The one rule that does not change in this industry is that all the other rules are constantly changing. That has been our experience in providing excellent legal counsel and representation to our trucking company partners for decades. As your company continues to grow and your legal needs with it, contact us at Anderson and Yamada, P.C. We look forward to working with you going forward.