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Federal Update
Rule would require truck stability systems at $1,160 a pop

By David Tanner, associate editor

The federal government has its sights on requiring electronic stability control systems on heavy-duty trucks in the next four years. The systems would add $1,160 to the cost of a new truck.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filed a notice of proposed rulemaking in May, targeting model year 2016 for requiring electronic stability control, or ESC.

ESC uses engine torque and braking of individual wheels to assist in preventing rollover crashes. ESC is compatible with air-braked vehicles and is not compatible with hydraulic braking systems.

NHTSA believes the technology would help prevent 40-56 percent of untripped rollovers and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes caused by severe oversteer or understeer conditions. Untripped rollovers are generally attributed to vehicle top-heaviness, roadway slope, wind and curves. Loss-of-control rollovers are generally attributed to evasive maneuvers or over-corrections.

OOIDA believes driver training and cab-crashworthiness standards would be more effective and has pitched those concepts to federal agencies.

"In typical Washington fashion, we have another government agency bent on 'idiot-proofing' the world with yet another new mandate that overstates the benefits and understates the costs that will be disproportionately borne by small business," OOIDA Executive Vice President Todd Spencer said. "Any technology that is worthwhile sells itself without mandates."

OOIDA points out that at $1,160 per truck, and with approximately 171,000 new trucks being sold each year, it would take only five years for the mandate to cost the industry $1 billion.

"Combine this with NHTSA's unholy alliance with EPA and truckers may soon see a $200,000 truck," Spencer said. "The regulatory machine in Washington is clearly on steroids and hurtling totally out of control. It's time to put the brakes on, and quick."

Public comments are being accepted at www.regulations.gov; by fax to 202-493-2251; and by mail to Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Avenue SE, West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001 The docket number is NHTSA-2012-0065. LL

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