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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]


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

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      I am an air brake engineer for one of the top suppliers to these commercial truck OEMs an I can tell you that there is no "latest braking technology" that is currently ready for use. The commercial trucking industry is, sadly, a very slow moving industry because the owners/drivers want to spend as little money as they can and get the most out of their trucks. This leaves innovation on the back burner because what good is it for us to create anything new and great when no one will buy it? After receiving an internal company email regarding this exact announcement, things began to stir a little bit in the building. Four years will most likely get pushed out because the lead time for these sorts of projects is very long especially when dealing with certain OEMs.

      One thing that will really benefit the braking in these commercial tractors is if the OEMs would build and run cleaner systems, allowing the air used for the braking system to be cleaner. I deal with problems due to contaminated air everyday and how we can create valves that will correctly control this air for braking. The fact of the matter is, these air systems get so contaminated by the truck's compressor/engine setup that there aren't even compounds created yet that can fight the chemical attack. Hopefully this blanket statement will be helpful to my company and our position as braking engineering and design when dealing with these OEMs and getting their system cleaned up to make these braking systems as efficient and safe as we can.
      • 5 Years Ago
      WTF? Retrorockets?

      If there really was feasible savings from any available technology, insurance companies would be giving discounts on it and trucks would have them.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If NHTSA had implemented a fade requirement we might have seen discs in wide usage. As it is wider drum brakes on the steer axle will do it for many applications (some will get discs on the steer axle). Most of the braking system will stay the same.
      • 5 Years Ago
      227 lives? WOOPY!

      What is more funny is reading the comments its obvious most of you know nothing about trucking and certainly have never driven one.

      I have and and do - and this ruling is STUPID.

      Its about revenue. For manufacturers, parts suppliers, etc.

      Disc brackes would be wonderful, but the fact is they cost more to fix and to buy.

      Example: they came out with wider tires - super singles to replace dual tires. The claim was better MPG. The problem is the return on investment isn't there! The tires cost more, cost more to service, etc. So you either buy diesel or you buy new tires and rims. You save nothing AND give up traction in snow. STUPID.

      Looking at it from a cost benefit point I don't see how this move makes sense other than, yet again, there trying to turn the U.S. into Europe.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I hate to be cold blooded but doing something for a zillion dollars to save 227 people per year is beyond laughable, hell, it's breathtaking. Something has GOT to be wrong with those numbers or we are all surely through the looking glass.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I'd really like to know what this "latest braking technology" is. A truck in perfect working order with it's ABS and good tires is already able to stop in as short a distance as physics will allow. If they want to shorten that distance, that will mean grippier tires that cost more and get worse fuel economy or running lighter loads.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Ummm....yeah. This is a stupid idea. Yeah, maybe bigger brakes will help, but truckers and their companies already have enough costs...plus I want to know who thinks up this crap. Stopping with another 30% less distance is butting into HD diesel duallies, and that is already hard to pull off. The weight on behind and on these trucks is unbelievably heavy. This is going to be a difficult work. I'm fine with the tractor trailers drive for the farm (a few different late models). The auto industry is being hammered so hard lately....
      • 5 Years Ago
      Is the panic stop limiting factor brakes or tires? There is not a lot of tire for a WHOLE lot of truck. Wheels lock way before cool truck brakes give up.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Upgrade the tires. The trucking industry uses tires that last for ever, and to get that longevity they give up traction.

        If the standard is 1/3g, how about 1/2.5g for tractor-trailer, and 1/2g for just tractor.

        Trucks have ABS, so how about stability and 'brake assist' for semis
        • 5 Years Ago
        @MikeW: Trucks also have traction control and ESP (almost a standard on Volvo Trucks). There are also optional collision avoidance systems that are offered as well. Volvo also has tire pressure monitoring systems as well as the option for disc brakes.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I laugh at the status-quo lovers here, not trying is just so much easier eh? If one would listen to these backward thinking dummies, we would heat our homes with coal stoves, read by candlelight and bathe in rivers.

      Raise the bar is the only way; create technological progress, there's NO reason why a truck should have the same braking distance as it did in 1975, none, nada, zero.
        • 5 Years Ago
        @ Nick. First, well, you're an idiot. Second? It's called cost, and as one whose management duties include shipping and receiving, I can tell you right now that not even you are prepared to foot the bill for freight companies to make these changes.

        By your logic there's "no reason" why every airliner doesn't break the sound barrier like the Concord did. I mean after all, it's technology... it needs to advance. Why are all these jets flying at the same sub-sonic speeds they did in 1975? What a bunch of backwards-thinking dummies there must be in the aviation industry. Get a life, buddy.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Too bad for Optimus

      • 5 Years Ago
      What else is new lets keep adding more cost during the recession lol...

      Hey NHTSA, you guys are smart you....
      • 5 Years Ago
      How about not only setting lower speed limits for trucks, but also enforcing them as well? Trucks doing 70+ in a 55 isn't such a good thing. (And don't get me wrong, 80 in a 55 in a little car isn't exactly good, either.)

      Also, the consensus always seems (to me, at least) to be that the car driver is at fault, and not the truck driver. There have been countless times where trucks have tailgated me (following so close I can's see their headlights) in an effort to try to push me out of the way so they can travel 10 or 15 mph over the speed limit...

      IMO, set a national 55 mph speed limit for trucks and enforce it. Then, see how much the accident rate drops.

      When I lived in Germany, tractor trailers were limited to 100 kph, and restricted to the right lane on two lane highways. They still have their accidents, but I never got stuck in a 10-mile backup because a truck was upside-down in the middle of the highway.

      Trucks may "keep America running", but that means that as a driver you have a higher responsibility to get your job done, but not the right to put other people's lives in danger or to break the law in the process.
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