Truckers refuse to roll over for stability control mandate

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 7/24/2012

Small-business truckers and large fleets alike are letting federal regulators know that they refuse to roll over and accept a one-size-fits-all mandate for electronic stability control systems on their trucks.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration conducted a hearing Tuesday, July 24, on a notice of proposed rulemaking to require electronic stability control on heavy trucks by 2016.

OOIDA attended the hearing in a listening capacity, but plans to submit comments by the agency’s requested deadline of Aug. 21.

At an agency-estimated $1,160 a pop, a requirement for stability control would cost the trucking industry $1 billion in five short years based on current truck sales.

OOIDA Director of Government Affairs Laura O’Neill attended the hearing. She said small-business truckers are not the only ones concerned about the mandate.

She said an ATA representative testified that while their association is generally supportive of a mandate, a one-size-fits-all rule is the wrong approach.

“They said let individual operations figure out what their needs are and how they can best outfit the trucks as opposed to the government figuring that out for them,” O’Neill said.

“Our concerns are similar but also include promoting increased driver training standards,” she said. “The best way to idiot-proof a truck is to make sure an idiot isn’t behind the wheel and is rather a well trained professional driver who knows what to do manually in the event of a roll over.  Relying solely on technology offers a false sense of security.”
O’Neill said adding to the price of trucks through regulations and mandates can make it cost-prohibitive for businesses to put newer trucks on the road.

“It is our hope that NHTSA doesn’t propose a mandate that is unworkable for a diverse industry and simply gimmickry instead of proactive safety policy.”

Leading up to the hearing, NHTSA stated that adding stability control to trucks would help prevent 40-56 percent of “untripped rollovers” and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes.

An untripped rollover is generally described as one caused by vehicle top-heaviness, roadway slope, curves and other factors. A loss-of-control rollover is generally caused by evasive maneuvers or over-corrections such as over- or under-steering.

Public comments are being accepted through Aug. 21 at; by fax to 202-493-2251; and by mail to Docket Management Facility: U.S. Department of Transportation, 1200 New Jersey Ave. S.E., West Building Ground Floor, Room W12-140, Washington, D.C. 20590-0001

The docket number is NHTSA-2012-0065.

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