WASHINGTON — State law enforcement officials and brake manufacturers want more interaction between the trucking industry and federal regulators before the government considers public comments on a rule to mandate automatic emergency braking (AEB) on heavy trucks.
The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA), whose members include state police and highway patrols, and the Commercial Vehicle Brake Manufacturers Council (CVBMC), a group under CVSA that represents OEMs, contend that the controversial AEB rule, proposed jointly by the National Highway Safety Administration and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration, would benefit from a higher level of engagement.
“CVSA and CVBMC encourage the agencies to consider holding a [U.S. Department of Transportation]-led stakeholder listening session, if possible, to allow industry an additional opportunity to provide direct feedback to the agencies, similar to the listening sessions FMCSA held related to electronic logging devices and the industry forum NHTSA held while developing the antilock brake system requirements,” CVSA Executive Director Collin Mooney wrote to DOT earlier this month.
At the same time, Mooney asked the agencies to extend the comment period beyond Sept. 5, which is the current 60-day deadline but which is “not adequate time to prepare and approve comments on such a complicated and important issue,” he asserted.
“CVSA and CVBMC are working to develop comments in response to the proposal and would like the opportunity to collaborate with other entities that will be commenting, to ensure all issues and concerns are addressed and our organization can provide NHTSA and FMCSA with comments that will contribute to a comprehensive, well informed, science and data-based [Notice of Proposed Rulemaking].”
The proposed rule adopts new standards requiring AEB systems on trucks as well as requiring an electronic stability control system that works with the AEB to sense when a crash is imminent. It also requires FMCSA to mandate that drivers activate AEBs whenever their truck is operating.
The mandate would go into effect for most new Class 7 and 8 trucks (those with a weight rating of over 26,000 pounds) within three years of a final rule, with most new Class 3-6 trucks (weighing over 10,000 pounds) meeting the requirements within four years.
While regulators estimate that requiring AEBs on trucks would generate between $1.8 billion and $2.6 billion in safety and other benefits, the majority of the hundreds of comments filed on the rule so far oppose it.
“AEBs are not effective enough to put into use on the roads, certainly not to mandate,” stated one commenter.
“They engage on ‘false positives’ too often and we need to not have anything that causes big rigs to ‘throw on the brakes’ without warning or cause. The actual conditions on the road (downhill, slick, curvy, heavy traffic, low speed) all create different and dynamically changing conditions. Experienced truckers can utilize technology when available but should not be at the mercy of the sensors and programming to crash/not crash.”
Such apprehension is why CVSA and CVBMC are planning an “industry discussion” on the proposal later this month. Subject matter experts, brake manufacturers, motor carriers and commercial motor vehicle manufacturers “will be invited to share their thoughts on the proposal, ask questions of one another and have an open dialogue on the requirements,” Mooney noted.
“We invite representatives from NHTSA and FMCSA to attend the meeting, as it will be an excellent opportunity for your agencies to listen to the concerns and thoughts of industry and engage in information gathering.”
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