Feds want stability systems for trucks by 2016

By David Tanner, Land Line associate editor | 5/23/2012

As expected, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration filed a notice of proposed rulemaking on Wednesday, May, 23, to require electronic stability control systems for heavy trucks starting in model year 2016. As OOIDA pointed out when the proposal was announced, a mandate would quickly add up to a billion-dollar rule at $1,160 per truck.

The federal notice filed on Wednesday says NHTSA plans to host a public hearing on the proposal sometime this summer, but an exact date has not been set.

Electronic stability control, or 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 states that 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, curves and other factors. Loss-of-control rollovers are generally attributed to evasive maneuvers or over-corrections.

Earlier this week, OOIDA leadership stated concerns about the proposal. OOIDA believes that driver training and cab-crashworthiness standards would be more effective in saving truckers’ lives than a government mandate for electronic stability control.

“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 Monday. “Any technology that is worthwhile sells itself without mandates.”

NHTSA intends for the requirement to take effect in 2016 and affect all new vehicles from that point forward.

OOIDA points out that at $1,160 per truck for a system, 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.

Spencer said federal mandates are putting the industry on pace for $200,000 trucks while driver training remains low on the priority list.

“In the collective wisdom of government safety agencies, they can’t even cost justify a requirement that individuals be trained for situations they will face on the road before they are licensed and turned loose on our highways,” Spencer said.

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, DC 20590-0001.

The docket number is NHTSA-2012-0065.

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