US to opts for stability control systems on tractors

Washington, DC, US:  A pending federal proposal to require stability control systems on truck tractors is getting a mixed reaction from the trucking industry.

The proposal, scheduled to be published by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration at the end of the year, would specify the details of a technology standard that that a growing number of fleets already have adopted voluntarily because they see safety benefits.

Stability control systems, introduced in the US in 2002, are popular with many hauliers

“They are the biggest winner in safety technology as far as I am concerned,” says Chad England, president of CR England. The company credits the Meritor Wabco stability control system with providing a 50% improvement in its rollover accident rate.

Fred Andersky, director of government affairs for Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, said his company has about 130,000 systems on the road. Last year about 14% of new trucks had stability systems. Market penetration among Class 6 through Class 8 air-braked trucks is now approaching 23%, he said.

National Highway Traffic Safety Administration justifies the move on safety grounds. It says that rollover and loss-of-control crashes lead to 304 deaths and 2,738 injuries a year. And stability control systems are effective in up to 56% of single-vehicle tractor-trailer rollover crashes, and up to 14% in crashes from skidding. From this, the agency estimates that the systems will save as many as 66 lives a year and prevent almost 1,000 injuries.

The systems would cost the industry up to $107m annually, but that cost would be outweighed by up to $372m in savings from preventing property damage and travel delays, the agency said.

The agency has not said how it intends to handle the distinction between the two types of stability systems on the market: Roll Stability Control and Electronic Stability Control. The proposal will cover only tractors and is unlikely to be a retrofit requirement.