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Mandatory use of anti-rollover systems? Why not?

Two years ago at its annual convention, the Ontario Trucking Association shocked the industry by announcing its plan to make speed limiters mandatory on all trucks operating in the province. Since the...




Two years ago at its annual convention, the Ontario Trucking Association shocked the industry by announcing its plan to make speed limiters mandatory on all trucks operating in the province. Since then, the association has fought doggedly to have the policy adopted by the various provincial governments.

It appears in Ontario and Quebec at least, it may get its wish.

At this year’s OTA convention, the association made another bold announcement, requesting that antirollover technology be standard on all new trucks sold in Canada.

The OTA’s speed limiter announcement triggered a tsunami of reaction from all corners of the industry and it’s still the most popular subject of debate today. This year’s stability system announcement has failed to incite a similar reaction. And for good reason: No harm can be done by calling on OEMs to make stability systems standard on new trucks.

Volvo and Mack already offer the Bendix electronic stability systems as a non-deletable item. You can have it removed, but you won’t save a dime so really, why would you? Now the OTA wants other manufacturers to follow suit.

The obvious concern about the policy involves money (what doesn’t these days?) Why on earth would the industry want to support a policy that would drive up the purchase price of new trucks, especially at a time when those costs are already skyrocketing due to costly new emissions technologies?

But when I spoke to Frank Bio, a marketing manager with Volvo Trucks, he assured me the systems can be made standard at very little, if any, cost to the truck purchaser. As the systems are ordered in larger volumes, the price goes down. And improved efficiencies on assembly lines make installation simpler, further reducing the cost of the technology, he explained.

The systems are remarkably inexpensive to begin with, considering the sophistication of the technology. A roll stability system for tractors lists at only US$750 with the more advanced electronic stability systems ranging from about US$1,500- $2,100.

Fred Andersky, marketing manager, electronics with Bendix, pointed out that with discounts, they cost about 1% of the total price of a new truck. So with price being somewhat of a non-issue, why would industry oppose making stability systems standard on new trucks? The technology exists and more importantly, it works. If you don’t believe me, participate in a demo the next time you have the chance to do so. Both Bendix and Meritor WABCO frequently offer the chance to test the technology first-hand.

Most participants step from the cab a believer. I’ve had the opportunity to test both systems and I can assure you they work as-advertised. But perhaps the biggest reason to support this initiative, is that the mandatory use of antirollover technology is inevitable, regardless of whether the OTA endorses their use or not.

It’s only a matter of time before government mandates the use of technology that is so clearly effective at reducing rollovers and thus saving lives. It makes much more sense for industry to bring the mandated use of stability systems in on its own terms, rather than waiting for government to impose such requirements itself. •

-James Menzies can be reached by phone at (416) 510-6896 or by e-mail at jmenzies@trucknews.com.


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Truck News is Canada's leading trucking newspaper - news and information for trucking companies, owner/operators, truck drivers and logistics professionals working in the Canadian trucking industry.
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