Braking It Down
NHTSA sets new stopping rule
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a long-awaited regulation to tighten the stopping distance standards on heavy-duty tractors.
The new standard generally requires a tractor traveling at 60 miles per hour come to a complete stop within 250 feet when loaded to its gross vehicle weight rating. The old standard required a complete stop within 355 feet. For a small number of very heavy, severe service tractors, the stopping distance requirement will be 310 feet under these same conditions. And the final rule requires that all heavy truck tractors must stop within 235 feet when loaded to their “lightly loaded vehicle weight.”
Three-axle tractors with GVWRs of 59,600 pounds or less must meet the reduced stopping distance requirements by Aug. 1, 2011. Two-axle tractors and tractors with GVWRs more than 59,600 pounds must meet requirements by Aug. 1, 2013. The requirements apply only to newly built tractors as of those dates.
Manufacturers can use any of several options to meet the requirement, including installation of enhanced drum brakes, air disc brakes or hybrid disc/drum systems, NHTSA said. The agency noted a number of vehicles in the commercial fleet already use such braking systems and, therefore, already meet the requirements of the amended standard.
NHTSA estimates the new braking requirement will save 227 lives annually and prevent 300 serious injuries. The agency also estimates it will reduce property damage costs by more than $169 million a year.
House Votes For Highway Fund Fix- by Jill Dunn
The U.S. House of Representatives voted 363-68 in favor of a $7 billion infusion for the Highway Trust Fund to keep it afloat until the fiscal year ends Sept. 30.
Members cast the July 29 vote after Department of Transportation projections indicated the fund would be in the red by early this month.
Democrats James Oberstar of Minnesota, transportation committee head, and Peter DeFazio of Oregon, Subcommittee on Highways and Transit chairman, have testified the fund would likely need $3 billion to survive until the end of the fiscal year, but agreed a $7 billion bill would protect against worst-case circumstances.
At press time the Senate was expected to vote on a temporary fix before its August recess and favors an 18-month extension, which the White House also supports.
On the day of the House vote, Sen. David Vitter (D-La.) asked fellow senators for a unanimous agreement to take up his Highway Investment Protection Act of 2009. This would allocate stimulus legislation funds to fix the expected shortage.
Poll Shows Support for Heavier Trucks – by Staff Reports
The Coalition for Transportation Productivity, a coalition of more than 100 shippers and allied associations seeking increased federal weight limits on interstate highways, has announced the results of a national poll it says demonstrates a majority of Americans support raising interstate truck weight limits without making trucks larger.
CTP says more than half of Americans surveyed favor allowing trucks with proper safeguards to carry more weight on U.S. interstates as a way to make roads safer, reduce environmental impact and strengthen the economy. CTP says the results of its commissioned national poll reveal broad support for responsible truck-weight reform as outlined in The Safe and Efficient Transportation Act of 2009 (H.R. 1799).