NHTSA lists priorities for truck rulemaking

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has a list of its 2003-2006 rulemaking priorities for large trucks that address insufficient braking capability, loss of control, and driver fatigue. The list is part of a NHTSA plan released July 21 for safety rulemaking priorities for all vehicles.

To improve braking, the agency is conducting test track evaluations and operational (fleet test) evaluations on electronically controlled braking systems (ECBS). One promising method to shorten truck stopping distances may be through disc air brakes with electronic control, says NHTSA. Stopping distances could be reduced by as much as 30% through use of disc brakes and more powerful front axle brakes.

NHTSA also will look at increasing foundation brake capacity and improving tractor-trailer brake compatibility, and hopes to pursue rulemaking to improve heavy-truck tire performance, including upgrading requirements for Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standards (FMVSS) #119, and requiring use of tire pressure monitoring systems on commercial vehicles with more than 10,000-lb GVWR.

Here are what NHTSA lists as braking priorities:

  • Research antilocking braking-in-a-curve performance requirements for trailers, 2003.

  • Notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) for braking-in-a-curve performance, 2004.

  • Final regulatory action on braking-in-a-curve performance trailers test requirements, 2006.

  • ANPRM on truck tractor stopping distance, 2003.

  • ECBS field operational tests, 2003-2006.

  • NPRM on truck tractor stopping distance, 2004.

  • Final rule on truck tractor stopping distance, 2005.

  • Research on braking (reducing stopping distance) for straight trucks, 2004-2005.

  • Decision on how to proceed for reducing stopping distance for straight trucks, 2006.

NHTSA is looking at heat buildup in tires that may result from underinflation, overloading, high-speed operation, sub-par tire design, or a combination of the factors.

Priorities are:

  • Testing for FMVSS, 2003.

  • NPRM to upgrade requirements for new heavy-truck tires, 2004.

  • Final rule to upgrade requirements for new heavy-truck tires, 2005.

  • Research on performance requirements for retreaded tires, 2003.

  • Decision on whether to develop new standard for retread tires, 2004-2005.

  • Final rule for a new standard (tentative) for retread tires, 2006.

  • Research on heavy-truck tire pressure monitoring systems, 2004.

  • Decision on how to proceed on heavy-truck tire pressure monitoring systems, 2005.

The NHTSA action regarding driver fatigue includes conducting advanced engineering development to come up with a sensor for a warning system that would alert drivers before they fall asleep. NHTSA says drivers are often unaware of their deteriorating condition, or even when they are aware, are often motivated to keep driving.

NHTSA priorities for driver fatigue:

  • Drowsy driver sensing system field operation test, 2003-2005.

  • Decision on how to proceed/performance specification requirements for heavy trucks, 2006.

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