The current standard for big rig braking is that a vehicle traveling at 60 mph needs to stop in 355 feet or less. It isn't entirely clear on what sort of distance most new heavy trucks need to brake from that speed, but the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is sharply reducing that distance for 2012 and beyond, with a new standard of 250 feet. NHTSA says the increased braking capabilities will save 227 lives per year, while averting over 300 serious injuries.

In theory, insurance companies will also receive a boost, as fewer accidents would save $169 million in property damages per year.

NHTSA says that the new standard will help usher in the newest brake technology into U.S. truck fleets. The government agency says that increased truck safety standards have resulted in fewer truck-related traffic fatalities in the U.S., as 2008 saw a 12% drop versus 2007. Hit the jump to read over NHTSA's official press release.

[Source: NHTSA | Image: Scott Olson/Getty]


PRESS RELEASE:

Tough New Braking Rules For Large Trucks Will Save Hundreds of Lives Annually

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration today issued stringent new braking standards that will save lives by improving large truck stopping distance by 30 percent.

NHTSA estimates that the new braking requirement will save 227 lives annually, and will also prevent 300 serious injuries. It is estimated to reduce property damage costs by over $169 million annually.

"Safety is our highest priority," Secretary LaHood said. "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 standard requires that a tractor-trailer traveling at 60 miles per hour come to a complete stop in 250 feet. The old standard required a complete stop within 355 feet.

The new regulation will be phased in over four years beginning with 2012 models.

The new rule should speed up the introduction of the latest brake technology into America's freight hauling fleets and will help truck drivers avoid collisions with other vehicles.

The new rule applies only to truck tractors, and does not include single-unit trucks, trailers and buses.

The latest statistics from NHTSA show that large commercial vehicles continue to show a decrease in their involvement in fatal crashes. In 2008, 4,229 people were killed in crashes involving large trucks, down 12 percent from the 4,822 deaths recorded in 2007