On June 27th, 2019, U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson (R-GA) and Senator Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced the Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act of 2019 — a proposed piece of legislation that would require all new commercial trucks with a gross weight of 26,001 pounds or more be equipped with devices that would limit maximum speeds to 65 miles per hour. The act would also require that these devices were utilized at all times while the vehicle was in operation.
While there was no mention of a requirement to retroactively install the technology on older trucks, the act would also cover any existing commercial trucks that currently have the technology installed. While the majority of trucks in the United States already have speed-limiting software built-in, it is not always used.
“The majority of trucks on our roads already have speed-limiting technology built in, and the rest of the technologically advanced world has already put them to use to ensure drivers follow safe speeds,” said Isakson. “This legislation would officially enforce a long-awaited speed limit of 65 mph on large trucks and reduce the number of preventable fatalities on our busy roadways.”
Prior to the 2016 election, the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) had issued a notice of proposed rulemaking on speed limiters — however, it did not pick a single speed and instead sought to investigate information on setting top speeds at 60, 65 or 68 miles per hour. The Trump administration decided to remove this from the list of the Department of Transportation’s priorities.
The Cullum Owings Large Truck Safe Operating Speed Act was named for Atlanta-area college student Cullum Owings who was killed by a speeding tractor-trailer during a trip back to college in 2002. His father, Steve Owings, co-founded the group Road Safe America and has been working to get regulation in place since his son’s death.
The proposed bill has found support with multiple safety organizations, including Road Safe America, Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, the Trucking Alliance, Citizens for Reliable and Safe Highways (CRASH) and the Truckload Carriers Association.