Monday, July 30, 2012

Berrier Insurance: New Commercial Truck Saftey Standards

Berrier Insurance, commercial truck insurance specialists, reports on more requirements being imposed upon the trucking industry.  It seems that regardless of how new a rig is the government continues to want the latest and greatest technology added despite costs to owners. Should the NHTSA allow either system to be installed?

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a safety standard that requires all commercial trucks and buses be upgraded with electronic stability control (ESC).  This new rule is the first of its kind and is targeted at all vehicles with a gross weight of more than 26,000 pounds.

It is anticipated that this new rule would go into effect as early as two years after legislation is signed.  That would mean that, in addition to new regulations already requiring upgrades, owners/operators may be looking at additional expenses and/or return visits to the shop in order to meet these new standards.  Additionally, the proposal for the new standards includes the addition of performance testing the new technology.  Many truck manufacturers are currently installing this additional piece of equipment on new rigs; however, there are actually two types in use and the choice between systems has yet to be decided:
  • ESC (electronic stability control) $1800-$2300: A system triggered when it detects roll instability that often occurs when trucks take turns too fast or maneuver too quickly plus reacts to both roll and yaw instability, this often occurs during skidding that could result in a jackknife.
  •  RSC (roll stability control) $800-$1600: This system is already installed in 25% of newer models and is similar in nature to ESC. However the RSC is less expensive and is only triggered when the system detects roll instability.
University of Michigan Transportation Institute study of 5-axle tractor trailers is swaying many toward the ESC.  It was found that the RSC resulted in 3,489 fewer crashes and 106 fewer deaths than trucks without stabilizers of any kind.  However, it was also found that with the ESC, 4,659 fewer crashes and 126 fewer deaths resulted.

Fortunately, members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on the proposal after it has been published in the Federal Register or during public hearings held by the NHTSA, which has yet to be determined.  For those that have a vested interest in the outcome, now is the time to make sure your voice is heard!

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