OEMs offer views on heavy-truck crashworthiness proposal

Responding to questions from FleetOwner on how they view the push for the federal government to research heavy-truck crashworthiness standards announced this week by the American Trucking Assns (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA), two Class 8 truck OEMs pointed out that they work with government regulators and industry organizations to ensure their cabs meet the latest safety standards

Responding to questions from FleetOwner on how they view the push for the federal government to research heavy-truck crashworthiness standards announced this week by the American Trucking Assns (ATA) and the Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. (OOIDA), two Class 7 and 8 truck OEMs pointed out that they work with government regulators and industry organizations to ensure their cabs meet the latest safety standards.

The two trucking advocacy groups made their pitch via a letter to David Strickland, Administrator of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) that argued that “NHTSA has continuously developed crashworthiness standards for automobiles and light trucks, but to date has generally not applied crashworthiness standards to commercial trucks. “We believe there may be opportunities to enhance the survivability of professional truck drivers if appropriate, research-based, uniform standards are developed.”

“Volvo Trucks is already providing safety technology that ATA and OOIDA have identified in their letter to NHTSA,” Brandon Borgna, manager-- Media Relations, told FleetOwner. “Safety has long been a core value of Volvo Trucks. Volvo invented the three-point seat belt and the passive and active safety features we include today in our products continue to reflect our commitment to safety.”

Borgna stressed that the OEM’s “cab is made from high-strength steel, allowing it to meet and exceed the Swedish Cab Impact Test, the most stringent industry standard in the world. Although Sweden eventually conformed in 2009 with a less stringent EU [European Union] law (ECR 29), Volvo Trucks continues to offer safety features that are not required by the standards.”

“At Navistar, driver safety is a top priority when it comes to designing and building our trucks,” said Steve Schrier, communications manager. “We work together with government regulatory agencies and other industry organizations to ensure that today’s trucks reflect the latest safety standards and leverage the latest technologies to ensure drivers have trucks that operate safely and effectively.”

Schrier said the “vast majority of our International- brand trucks ( core commercial trucks being TerraStar, DuraStar, WorkStar, TranStar, ProStar, and LoneStar) we build are constructed with a durable and rigid steel cab, which we believe provides an advantage over similar trucks built with aluminum cabs.” He added that “all International cab (including the aluminum cabs in the PayStar and 9900) structures were developed to meet the roo- strength requirements of SAE J2422. These requirements were developed with Navistar engineers working with the Society of Automotive Engineers to develop a test to promote occupant protection in the event of a rollover accident scenario.”.

Borgna also stated that Volvo “offers a driver-side airbag as standard equipment and, should a crash occur, the Volvo steering column collapses and the steering wheel deforms to help protect the driver. Drivers receive additional protection from knee panels that absorb leg impact. Additionally, engine mounts release the engine and transmission upon frontal impact, allowing the engine to drop down under the cab.”

Navistar’s Schrier also pointed out that “In addition, our on-highway trucks are available with a number of innovative safety technologies, including crash and collision mitigation systems and electronic stability control systems.”

The ATA/OOIDA letter specifically stated that crashworthiness standards should be considered for the “tractor/truck cabs of commercial motor vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating (GVWR) of 26,001 lbs or more.” That would cover all Class 7 and 8 trucks.

Also, the letter noted that ATA and OOIDA are “aware of industry standards that original truck equipment manufacturers follow, and NHTSA’s research should also consider the merits of existing industry-driven standards and testing.”

Specifically, ATA and OOIDA called for “improving cab structure and occupant restraints, such as safety belts and airbags, strengthening windshields and doors to prevent occupant ejections, and installing more forgiving interior surfaces.”

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