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Stability Control Systems – Why Do the Feds Want Them?


So the story of 2011 is regulation, regulation and more regulation. 2012 doesn’t show any signs of letting up as politicians from both sides of the isle continue to demand more regulation in the name of safety and sanity (we’re guessing).

Most of what’s motivating this is a batch of reports conducted by the NHTSA in 2009 that dealt with how technology can both help and hinder driver safety. It’s doubtful that anyone would argue against how GPS units have helped the transportation industry save thousands of gallons of fuel, or helped truck drivers avoid hazardous bridges, traffic jams and restricted routes. But many drivers and carriers understand there’s a limit to what technology can help with. Enter stability control systems…

The Stability Control System Mandate

This year in March, the NHTSA issued a notice indicating interest in a possible rule about requiring stability control systems in all vehicles over 10,000 lbs.  That notice said the rule would promulgate a new federal standard that would require stability control systems on truck tractors and motor coaches that address both rollover and loss of control crashes.

NHTSA said in the filing that rollover and loss-of-control crashes involving heavy vehicles are responsible for 304 deaths and 2,738 injuries each year. Based on NHTSA data, it believes requiring the devices on heavy vehicles could save up to 66 lives each year and as much as $26 million in property damage per year. The conclusion of the notice read as follows: Our preliminary estimate produces an effectiveness range of 37 to 56% against single-vehicle tractor-trailer rollover crashes and 3 to 14% against loss of control crashes that result from skidding on the road surface.” So while the preventative numbers are good, what’s the total cost to fleets? While the administration hesitated to name a per unit cost, they didn’t mince words when they said retrofitting all needed units would be “expensive.” They made their case however, by predicting the millions in savings from property damage to carriers and owner/operators. The enhanced safety systems would help them avoid up to nearly $400 million per year.

For now, the Office of Budget and Management received the proposed rule from the NHTSA on Dec. 13, but no details on what’s included in the rule are provided.  According to the timeline provided by the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the projected publication date in the Federal Register is Dec. 30. We will keep you posted as details develop…

Read the entire stability control system safety recommendation at the NHTSA’s website.


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