Congressional resolution proposes crash-avoidance tax break

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line staff writer | 2/27/2008

Truck equipment vendors and a safety advocacy organization are touting a proposed resolution in the U.S. House that would give tax credits to truck owners who purchase anti-rollover systems, lane departure warnings and other crash avoidance truck add-ons.

The resolution, HR3820, is sponsored by U.S. Rep. Mike Thompson, D-CA, and would allow truck owners maximum tax credits of $1,500 per technology and $3,500 per truck.

The tax credit would apply to systems including:

  • Collision warning;
  • Lane departure warning;
  • Blind spot warning;
  • Vehicle stability; and
  • Brake stroke monitoring.

The Motor & Equipment Manufacturers Association touted crash avoidance technologies and the proposed tax credit at a Washington, DC, news conference on Monday, Feb. 25.

Speakers at the news conference said they hoped the tax credit would give fleet owners an incentive to invest in safety. Pursuing federal mandates that crash-avoidance systems be placed on trucks may not be as effective as a tax credit for an estimated 50 percent of each device’s price.

Truck accidents can be lowered by deploying the systems outlined in HR3820, Stephen Campbell, executive director of the Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance told congressional staffers on Monday.

“Now I am sure some of you may be thinking, ‘If these things work so well, why don’t we just go ahead and mandate them?’ Most of you, in the work that you do for your Member of Congress, are all too familiar with how many years a rulemaking process can take, usually two to three years or sometimes five years or longer,” Campbell said. “Also how many of you have experienced a great idea going into rulemaking coming out on the back end as something completely different than what was envisioned?”

Mike Joyce, OOIDA’s senior government affairs representative, attended the briefing and has been following HR3820. Joyce said he didn’t expect Congress to approve the resolution this year.

Joyce said OOIDA leaders hopes to work with Thompson and other co-sponsors of the proposed resolution to make the tax credit better suited for small trucking businesses and owner-operators.

“More money should be spent on training of truckers, and the mentality should not be that you can just throw any Larry, Curly or Moe behind the wheel of a truck and let the technology take over,” Joyce said. “That’s not how it works.”

Co-sponsors of HR3820 include U.S. Reps Ron Lewis, R-KY; Heath Shuler, D-NC; Steve LaTourette, R-OH; Peter DeFazio, D-OR; Sander Levin, D-MI; Ellen Tauscher, D-NC; and Mike Rogers, R-MI.

An official at one major parts manufacturer told Land Line in early February that crash-avoidance systems can’t help poor drivers.

“None of these technologies are fail-safe,” said Fred Andersky, marketing manager for electronics at Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. “Like anything, these systems have limitations. Drivers can exceed these limitations and still end up with the same result. It won’t make a bad driver a good driver, but it will help keep a good driver out of a bad situation.”

Andersky estimated that the Bendix electronic stability program would add $1,900 to $2,100 to a new truck’s price, and added that Volvo and Mack have made stability control systems standard on their tractors.

Adaptive cruise control uses radar technology control to sense vehicles ahead and adjusts speed accordingly. That should add $2,000 to $2,100 to the sticker price, Andersky said.

“It’s a pretty small percentage of the total price of a vehicle,” Andersky said. “Not much more than you’re going to pay for a chrome bumper.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

Copyright © OOIDA