Final rule on the move to mandate stability control systems for trucks

By David Tanner, Land Line senior editor | 2/10/2015

A final rule that OOIDA says overstates the safety benefits and understates the costs to the trucking industry moved to the White House Office of Management and Budget for review on Friday, Feb. 6.

The rule would mandate electronic stability control, or ESC, systems on new trucks and motor coaches. If the rule clears OMB, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would be on track to publish a final version sometime later this year.

NHTSA estimates the cost of ESC systems at $1,160 per truck, but that is an average that takes the most expensive systems and the cheapest systems into account. OOIDA points out that the cheapest systems may not even meet the standards of a mandate.

Meritor-WABCO prices their ESC systems at $1,800 while Bendix offers systems ranging from $2,000 to $2,300.

NHTSA estimates its final rule will cost the trucking industry $113 million, but OOIDA estimates the cost somewhere between $157 million and $187 million depending on which ESC systems would be used.

The federal agency insists that trucking companies using ESC can simply pass the costs on to their customers, but OOIDA disagrees.

NHTSA claims a mandate could prevent up to 2,300 crashes, 858 injuries and 60 fatalities each year. OOIDA believes those numbers are inflated based on “inaccurate assumptions” about truck crashes and about ESC systems.

OOIDA opposes an industry-wide government mandate, and offered up alternatives to a mandate in comments filed to the rulemaking docket in October 2012.

Federal agencies, OOIDA stated in comments, should focus on training entry-level truck drivers to eliminate underlying driver errors that NHTSA uses to justify an ESC mandate. OOIDA also says law enforcement agencies should enforce current laws, and governments should do better at marking rollover hotspots to mitigate problems.

“Driving too fast for conditions and other unsafe driving practices that undeniably contribute to many rollover and loss-of-control crashes could not only be reduced through better training,” OOIDA stated in its comments, “… but also by more aggressive enforcement of the plethora of state laws already on the books, laws that prohibit unacceptable behaviors that amount to inattentive or negligent driving practices.”

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