The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to finalize its truck tractor stopping distance rule in March 2007, according to ArvinMeritor and Meritor Wabco.
Although NHTSA originally proposed reducing the stopping distance by 20 to 30% the two companies anticipate the final rule will lean closer to 30%.
They also expect a two-tiered approach to compliance, with three-axle tractors required to meet the new stopping distance in 2009, followed by specially configured tractors in 2011.
Three-axle tractors comprise roughly 80% of all new tractor air-brake production, according to Paul Johnston, senior director for Meritor Wabco Vehicle Control Systems. He explained that specially configured tractors will have a later enforcement date due to the challenges associated with testing and implementing solutions for low-volume configurations.
“The daily overall performance is not going to change,” said Joe Kay of ArvinMeritor. “The change may go unnoticed to the driver overall. We're going to improve [life and wear] a little better…to minimize the cost of ownership.”
It's too early to tell how much more it will cost to install the brakes that meet the new standards.