Awaiting a proposal that would make stability control systems mandatory on tractors, but not trailers, is stirring a range of opinions among those in the trucking industry.
Stability control systems, which became available in 2002, are becoming more and more utilized by truck manufacturers and carriers such as Road Scholar Transport to prevent rollovers and increase safety on the road.
Bendix and WABCO, two main contenders manufacturing this technology, have noticed a growth in companies purchasing these products. Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems’ Fred Andersky states that there are nearly 130,000 stability control systems currently being utilized with 14% of new trucks containing the technology as of last year, an article in truckinginfo.com notes. Although Andersky explains that market penetration is reaching 23%, Meritor Wabco Vehicle Control Systems’ believes that it could reach 25%, the article explains.
Why the growth? One reason has to do with CSA 2010’s Safety Measurement System. Instead of carriers being rated under the SafeStat system, which rates trucking companies based on four categories (driver, vehicle, safety management, and accident), both carriers AND drivers are now evaluated under seven Behavior Analysis and Safety Improvement Categories (BASICS) including: unsafe driving, fatigued driving, driver fitness, controlled substance/alcohol, vehicle maintenance, cargo-related, and crash indicator, placing those who pose as a risk on “alert” status.
With some saying that CSA 2010 is “abusing” truck drivers, believing that some drivers are cited for instances they have no control over, others are worried that the initiative to remove unsafe drivers from the road will lead to even greater driver shortages, and therefore, carriers are utilizing stability control systems in order to raise their scores.
But although the number of carriers using these systems is growing, the American Trucking Associations (ATA) would like to see more trucking companies using them and suggest an incentive for those who do so, such as a tax break, which has already been considered by Congress in the past.
The National Transportation Safety Board noted an incident that occurred two years ago in which a tank truck carrying petroleum gas rolled over and exploded, recommending “that all tank trailers be retrofitted with a rollover stability control system, and that NHTSA require stability control systems on all new heavy commercial vehicles” (http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/news-detail.asp?news_id=74468). However, the agency can only give their suggestions, which are very influential, yet they cannot make a ruling.
When looking at the available stability control systems, there are two types: Roll Stability Control (RSC) and Electronic Stability Control (ESC).
Whereas the two systems contain sensors that will reduce the throttle and apply the brakes when necessary to prevent a rollover situation, the two systems contain differences.
As truckinginfo.com notes, whereas ESC “reacts to both roll instability and yaw instability,” RSC only detects roll instability. Retail cost of an RSC system is $1,600 and is said to prevent 3,489 crashes and 106 (of the 304 death caused by rollovers) each year if it becomes mandatory, whereas the ESC system costs more (between $2,000 and $2,300) and is expected to reduce 4,659 crashes and 126 deaths, the article states.
Road Scholar Transport has incorporated the ESC system on our trucks, preventing rollovers due to unpreventable icy and wet weather conditions, and thus, making roads safer.
The mandatory use of stability control systems has already won the approval of Bendex and although the ATA supports the systems, they are still hesitant on whether it should become mandatory.
On the other hand, there are those who flat out oppose the mandate. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Association is one of these. According to the group, making the system mandatory would force those with a good safety record to invest large amounts of money on these systems, with the prices of trucks increasing to accommodate the additional feature.
Although the technology is said to cost the trucking industry nearly $107 million a year, the industry will be saving close to $372 million, otherwise added up by damages and delays (http://www.truckinginfo.com/news/news-detail.asp?news_id=74468).
The proposal is expected to be published later this year.
Do you feel that stability control systems should be mandatory? List your comments below!