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Commercial truck makers ready to trade safety for savings

Federal and state transportation officials oversee road improvements and impose stronger traffic regulations designed to prevent injuries and the loss of life. It would seem that the companies that own and make vehicles would be the first in line to approve new safety measures in order to help reduce serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents on our North Carolina roads. Sadly, that's not always the case.

A truck accident can be devastating when the collision involves drivers and occupants of smaller vehicles. Irreparable property damage, debilitating injuries and death are common occurrences in North Carolina tractor-trailer crashes, especially when a large truck overturns on the road.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration believes that an average of 700 rollover traffic deaths each year on our U.S. roads warrants a change in the way trucks and buses are made. NHTSA officials have recommended the installation of electronic stability devices over the next four years. However, heavy-duty truck manufacturers think the devices are too costly and unnecessary.

Rollover accidents just don't happen "in the real world" as much as the government believes, according to truck makers testifying before a recent government hearing. Manufacturers complained that adding the devices according to government regulations would cost the industry millions of dollars with few noticeable results.

NHTSA officials believe the suggested stability control system would prevent more than 2,300 accidents every year and cut the number of rollover accidents by 56 percent. These numbers are huge when you consider how many more people could avoid suffering serious and fatal injuries in truck accidents each year.

The electronic stability control system the government wants manufacturers to include is more expensive than a roll stability control device, which truck makers say do the same thing at a cheaper cost. The government's recommended stability system, which includes computer-assisted braking, would only cost an average of $1,160 per truck.

Source: The Detroit News, "Truck makers push back on U.S. rollover-technology rule," Jeff Plungis, July 26, 2012

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