Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC applauds the action taken by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) to improve highway safety. NHTSA released a Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (NPRM) that would require full-stability technology, known as Electronic Stability Control (ESC), on truck tractors and certain buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 11,793 kilograms (26,000 lbs.). Bendix will release a complete response to NHTSA regarding the company’s position on this technology in the time frame for comments provided.
“The government’s notice makes a clear statement, underscoring the advantages of full-stability technology, as opposed to roll-only technology,” says Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs. “While our preference is always to let the overall market drive choice, we support NHTSA’s selection of full-stability technology to mandate. We believe full-stability technology on tractor-trailers, highway motorcoaches and other large buses is critical to the safety of today’s highways. Bendix produces both roll-only and full-stability systems, but in our view, full stability is the superior technology, and the cost it adds is minimal. Just as important, full-stability technology is the foundation for the Bendix active safety and driver assistance systems available now, as well as advanced concepts in development.”
The proposed ruling comes at a time when increasing numbers of fleets are investing in full-stability technology because of the system’s ability to help reduce the number of heavy truck accidents, improve safety records, and, ultimately, save money. Sales of the Bendix ESP Electronic Stability Program full-stability system, introduced in early 2005, have been escalating year over year, with nearly 57,000 systems delivered in 2011 and more than 175,000 units sold to date. However, even with this sustained growth, Bendix estimates that 70 to 75% of the Class 6, 7, and 8 air-braked truck build each year is delivered without stability technology.
In announcing the NPRM, NHTSA cited research it conducted showing full-stability technology could prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes each year and another 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes. The agency also estimates that a full-stability standard would prevent up to 2,329 crashes each year, while eliminating an estimated 649 to 858 injuries and preventing between 49 and 60 fatalities annually.
Bendix was the first North American brake system manufacturer to make full-stability solutions widely available for the commercial vehicle market. Bendix remains the market leader in full stability with its Bendix ESP technology for tractor-trailers, trucks, and motorcoaches. Industry-wide, full stability is outselling roll-only technology almost three to two. In addition, three truck builders – Volvo, Mack, and Peterbilt – have already made full-stability technology standard on their highway tractors.
Bendix ESP is the foundation for Bendix advanced active safety technologies, such as Bendix Wingman Advanced – A Collision Mitigation Technology, which combines both adaptive cruise control and collision mitigation to help drivers mitigate or reduce the intensity of potential rear-end collision situations. With this integrated approach, fleets are getting the most active safety performance available in the market today.
According to Andersky, full-stability technology – such as Bendix ESP – addresses both roll and directional stability. It recognizes and mitigates conditions that could lead to rollover and loss-of-control situations sooner on dry surfaces, and in a wider range of driving and road conditions, including snowy, ice-covered, and slippery surfaces. Full-stability systems contain additional sensors, enabling the unit to recognize factors that could lead to truck rollovers and loss of control.
He adds that interventions are also different. Full-stability systems rely on automatic brake interventions involving the steer, drive, and trailer axles, whereas roll-only systems typically apply the brakes only on the drive and trailer axles. With the recently enacted legislation requiring a 30% reduction in stopping distance, more braking power is now concentrated on the steer axle. Slowing the vehicle quickly helps mitigate rollovers faster, while slowing and redirecting can help the driver maneuver in loss-of-control situations.
“When implemented, the proposed NHTSA ruling will help save lives on our roadways,” Andersky says. “The ruling reinforces our belief that full-stability technology offers the best choice to help prevent heavy truck accidents. And it demonstrates the importance of full stability as the platform for tomorrow’s active safety systems.”
Bendix stresses that technologies such as Bendix ESP do not replace the need for alert, safe drivers practicing safe driving habits, as well as continuous, comprehensive driver training.