One of the interesting aspects of current and future truck safety technology development efforts, which include electronic stability control (ESC), roll stability control, and assorted collision-mitigation systems, is that they are all designed to be “brake neutral” from the outset.
Simply put, regardless of whether a truck is equipped with air disc brakes (ADBs), traditional drum brakes, wider drum brakes, or some combination of the above, there won't be any degradation of safety system performance.
“There really is no direct correlation between the effectiveness of technologies like stability control and the types of brakes used on a particular truck,” says Joe Kay, chief engineer-brake systems for Meritor Wabco. “You'll still get a small performance advantage with ADBs, but they won't significantly alter the capability of safety systems like ESC and others.”
“We don't see [fleet] decisions concerning the adoption of certain safety systems driving the adoption of a particular brake package,” adds Fred Andersky, director of government relations, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems. “Those are really two separate decisions.”
Broadly speaking, the decision on whether to adopt ADBs, stick with wider drum brakes, or spec an amalgam of the two boils down to cost, weight, and maintenance issues, not their performance characteristics within the broader scope of truck safety technology, he explains.
“Safety technologies like ESC are designed to do what they have to do with the brake systems available today,” Andersky points out. “Even the decision at the OEM level as to what brake system is selected depends on their engineering strategy and market view.”
The same feeling holds true in terms of brake control technologies as well, says Andersky. “From our perspective, we really don't see the North American market shifting away from air-actuated brakes to electronically controlled braking systems for at least 10 to 15 years,” he notes. “The air brake system we have in place today is going to continue to be viable well into the future.”