Economics blocking safety technology, NHTSA official says

Despite the development of new and very effective safety technologies that can help reduce commercial truck accidents, cost remains a key stumbling block to the adoption of these advancements, according to an official of the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA). “It’s not about the technology anymore – it’s about deployment,” said Duane Perrin, chief of heavy vehicle research for NHTSA, speaking at the recent Transportation Research Board (TRB) meeting in Washington, D.C. “The economics of acquiring the technology is the key,” Perrin explained. Trucks have a high acquisition cost for safety technology because of low sales volume. He added, “There is a high individual cost versus the public benefit gained from getting new safety technology on trucks.” For example, Perrin said advanced braking systems, stability control technology to prevent rollovers, and collision avoidance radar devices are just some of the latest safety developments that can substantially cut down on the number of truck accidents in the United States. However, despite tests demonstrating the safety benefits offered by those systems, the cost to acquire them is stalling wider usage in the trucking industry. Perrin believes that new rules may be called for. “Regulation may be the only way to achieve wider deployment of new safety technology on trucks.”

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