As some trucking interests and federal regulators push for a factory-set limit on truck speed, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA) is pushing back, contending there is “a lack of solid science” to back up such a mandate and that speed-limited trucks “would make highways less safe.”

OOIDA sent a letter April 23 to officials with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) as they prepare to submit a draft rule to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). The rule has a July 27 projected publication date, according to the latest Dept. of Transportation rulemaking report.

Along with the letter, OOIDA included a supplemental outline of research showing that uniform highway speeds are safest, while speed differentials increase the risk of crashes.

“That is why so many states have eliminated car-truck speed-limit differentials over the past 15 years,” OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer writes. “OOIDA fears that much of this progress in highway safety will be undermined with the adoption of a speed limiter mandate that once again creates speed differentials that state governments sought to eliminate.”

OOIDA requests that the agencies fully consider the studies and data before setting a policy that would create a dangerous, split-speed environment on U.S. highways.

In the letter, OOIDA also says it does not condone speeding or unsafe driving habits and instead “strongly encourages” truckers to comply with all state laws and federal regulations.

The letter comes within days of a renewed call by the American Trucking Assns. for a 65 mph factory setting.

“We waited patiently until the government finally said in January 2011 they would move ahead with a speed limiter mandate, but this commonsense regulation has been mired in bureaucracy for over four years now,” noted Bill Graves, ATA’s president and CEO, in a statement. 

ATA and Roadsafe America, a highway safety interest group, originally petitioned FMCSA for a speed limiter setting of 68 mph in 2006.

In response to a recent Associated Press investigation that detailed truck tire failures being caused because of higher speeds, new NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind promised quick action on the regulation, calling speed limiters the best option to prevent truck drivers from exceeding the design limits on most commercial vehicle tires.

Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx has testified the regulation has been delayed over the years by research and cost-benefit analyses.

Previous public comment on the petition for the joint rulemaking is available on Regulations.gov.