A new federal standard requiring stability control systems in commercial truck tractors is set to be published later this year, drawing a generally favorable response from trucking industry professionals, but leaving some worried about costs.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has pushed for the new proposal based on the demonstrated success of stability control systems in preventing crashes. According to the agency, rollover and loss-of-control crashes involving heavy vehicles are responsible for 304 deaths and 2,738 injuries every year.
Stability control systems effectively prevent single-vehicle tractor trailer rollovers 56 percent of the time and skidding crashes 14 percent of the time. NHTSA estimates the reduction in heavy vehicle crashes will save up to 66 lives per year and prevent up to 979 injuries.
Additionally, the control systems would prevent between 810–1,693 crashes resulting in property damage only, saving up to $26 million in property damage and travel delays. However, NHTSA says the cost savings from reducing property damage and travel delays would produce net benefits of up to $372 million every year.
Chad England, who oversees C.R. England, one of the largest trucking companies in North America, told Truckinginfo.com that stability control systems are “the biggest winner in safety technology as far as I am concerned.” According to Mr. England, stability control systems reduced the rollover rate across his company’s fleets by 50 percent. Such dramatic crash prevention not only saves lives and money, but helps carriers prevent an undesirable spike in their CSA scores.
Citing financial burdens a mandate would impose on smaller, independent operations, Joe Raikovacz, director of regulatory affairs for the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association, told Truckinginfo.com he opposed NHTSA’s proposal. According to Truckinginfo.com, “He fears that this expense, on top of other regulatory expenses such as emission controls and electronic onboard recorders, will drive the cost of a truck beyond the reach of small businesses.”
Costs can range from $800 to $2,300 depending on the type of system and its capabilities. Other fears may emerge from the fact that nobody knows for certain how NHTSA will deal with the two types of stability control systems on the market (Electronic Stability Control and Roll Stability Control), or whether older tractors will have to be retrofitted.
Details of NHTSA’s proposal will be available when it is published later this year.