ArvinMeritor and Meritor Wabco said in a media conference call yesterday that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to finalize its truck tractor stopping distance rule in March 2007.

NHTSA had proposed on December 15, 2005 to reduce the required stopping distance for these vehicles by 20 to 30%. ArvinMeritor and Meritor Wabco anticipate the final rule will lean closer to 30%.

The companies said NHTSA is likely to take a two-tiered approach to enforcing the final rule:

  • In 2009, three-axle tractors would have to comply
  • In 2011, specially configured tractors would have to comply

Paul Johnston, senior director for Meritor Wabco Vehicle Control Systems said three-axle tractors comprise roughly 80% of all new air brake production for tractors. Specially configured tractors will have a later enforcement date due to the challenges associated with testing and implementing solutions for low-volume configurations, Johnston said.

“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 overall.”

It’s too early to tell how much more it will cost to install the brakes that meet the new standards compared to current configurations, the companies said. NHTSA estimated last year it would cost an additional $153 for larger S-cam drum brakes and $1,308 for disc brakes to meet the 30% standard.

The NHTSA proposed rule is available in the December 15, 2005 edition of the Federal Register.

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