Posted on 08/23/2012 by David Radke
Industry group the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association (OOIDA) recently voiced concerns it has about the proposed idea of requiring heavy trucks and buses to have electronic stability control (ESC) systems.
OOIDA President Jim Johnston stated in comments to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that the proposal to mandate these devices made too little of the cost and artificially inflated the benefits, according to Land Line magazine.
Johnston also said that the notice of proposed rulemaking published a few months ago did not account for other potential strategies that could lower the current crashes, fatalities and injuries, the media outlet reports.
The notice, which was filed on May 23, proposes that regulators make ESCs standard in new trucks by 2016, according to the news source. While the NHTSA has predicted that providing trucks with these ESC systems would cost $1,160 per vehicle, OOIDA states that the number was derived from averaging the costs of a wide range of models, including less expensive ones that may not be allowed under the mandate.
The media outlet reports that Meritor-Wabco ESC systems are worth roughly $1,800, while Bendix systems cost between $2,000 and $2,300. Using these figures, the proposed mandate would provide the trucking industry with an annual cost between $157 million and $187 million, which is substantially higher than the $113 million estimated by NHTSA.
Johnston said that the industry is on par to have $200,000 trucks as a result of the ESC mandate and other costly regulations. OOIDA disagrees with the NHTSA assertion that these increased costs could easily be passed on to customers, saying that individual carriers would undermine their competitiveness by passing the costs on to their clients.
Benefits of change overstated
OOIDA claims that the agency has inflated the benefits that the regulation would provide to the industry, according to the news source. Johnston said in comments that the assertion made by NHTSA that the use of ESC could eliminate as many as 2,300 crashes, 60 fatalities and 858 injuries on an annual basis is exaggerated, and these inaccurate figures were caused by false assumptions surrounding the vehicles using the devices and accidents involving the trucks.
There are various ways to help bolster the safety of the industry that are not based on the use of equipment, the media outlet reports. One example would be driver compliance programs.
"OOIDA has consistently proposed better and more comprehensive driver training standards as an alternative solution to a myriad of safety-related problems," Johnston said, according to the news source.
"New-driver training could emphasize proper speeds for negotiating ramps and curves, behaviors to avoid on particular road surfaces, dangers of evasive driving maneuvers and best loading practices. A better understanding of these subjects will help eliminate, at an early stage, the underlying driver errors that NHTSA itself has identified as real-world behaviors that commonly play a role in rollovers and loss-of-control," he stated, the media outlet reports.
Johnston added that OOIDA has emphasized that law enforcement spend their time enforcing regulations that outlaw "unacceptable behavior."
Split in the industry
Although the OOIDA has stated its criticisms of the proposed ESC regulations, the American Trucking Associations has stated its support of the laws given one change, according to The Trucker. The ATA has stated that it supports the proposed regulations as long as the language is changed so that more devices aside from ESCs can be used. The trucking group stated that it did not believe that ESCs did not provide enough benefit to be the only devices used, and that independent research supports this position.