NHTSA rule to reduce truck accidents receives criticism

Nearly three months ago, we posted on a proposed National Highway Traffic Safety Administration rule that would equip heavy-duty trucks and buses with electronic stability control. According to NHTSA studies, the systems would save lives and prevent thousands of truck accidents every year.

In spite of these potential benefits, many in the trucking industry, including those who manufacture the tractor-trailers, have criticized the rule. They argue that electronic stability control offers excessive and unnecessary protection. They say that the accidents it helps prevent occur only in simulations, and the technology therefore would offer little real-world benefit to truck drivers and others who share the roads with them.

Instead, members of the trucking industry favor roll stability control, which costs less. According to NHTSA calculations, equipping a truck with electronic stability control would cost approximately $1,160.

Opponents of the NHTSA rule also have said that trucks come in a wide variety of configurations. They have argued that electronic stability control, a system implemented with success in smaller passenger vehicles, may not have the same effect when installed on commercial trucks. In addition, they assert that it will be expensive and difficult to test and implement electronic stability control on trucks with different brakes, suspensions and tires.

The comments voiced by industry representatives occurred at a public hearing held by the NHTSA. It is still unknown what course the agency will take on this rule, and the outcome could have significant effects not only for trucking companies, but for everyday drivers. We will provide updates as they become available.

Source: The Detroit News, “Truck makers push back on U.S. rollover-technology rule,” Jeff Plungis, July 26, 2012.