New Braking Standards for Tractor Trailer Trucks Will Save Hundreds of Lives

On July 24, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued new braking standards for large trucks to improve stopping distance by 30 percent. The NHTSA estimates that these new braking standards will save 227 lives and prevent 300 serious injuries each year.

“Safety is our highest priority,” said Secretary of Transportation Ray LaHood. “Motorists deserve to know they are sharing the road with large trucks that are up to the safest possible standards, so they can get home alive to their families.”

The new regulation will be phased in over four years beginning with 2012 models. It requires that a tractor trailer truck traveling at 60 miles per hour must be able to come to a complete stop in 250 feet. The old standard was 355 feet. The difference of 105 feet will save many lives.

The official summary of the new braking standard states:

The purpose of these amendments is to reduce the number of fatalities and injuries associated with crashes involving tractor-trailer combinations and other vehicles. In addition, we anticipate that this rule will prevent a substantial amount of property damage through averting or lessening the severity of crashes involving these vehicles. Once all subject heavy truck tractors on the road are equipped with enhanced braking systems, we estimate that annually, approximately 227 lives will be saved and 300 serious injuries will be prevented. In addition, this final rule is expected to prevent over $169 million in property damage annually, an amount which alone is expected to exceed the total cost of the rule.

There are a number of simple and effective manufacturing solutions that vehicle manufacturers can use to meet the requirements of this final rule. These solutions include installation of enhanced drum brakes, air disc brakes, or hybrid disc/drum systems. We note that currently a number of vehicles in the commercial fleet already utilize these improved braking systems and already realize performance that would meet the requirements of the amended standard.

The new braking rule only applies to truck tractors – not single-unit trucks, trailers, or buses. The rule will apply to virtually all trucks in commercial fleets, and I think it will prevent many tragedies. According to NHTSA statistics, 4,299 people were killed in wrecks involving large trucks in 2008. In 2009, 4,822 fatalities occurred in accidents involving large trucks.

If you’re injured in a tractor trailer truck wreck, you need an experienced attorney who is familiar with current Federal Motor Carrier Safety Rules and Regulations and who has the time, interest, and resources to take on a complicated truck accident case. You need someone who will fight to make sure you receive full compensation. If you’re the victim of a truck crash, you should hire an attorney as soon as possible to preserve important evidence. Call MLN Law at 404-531-9700 to schedule your free consultation.