U.S. Department of Transportation
Office of Public Affairs
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, August 10, 2000
Contact: Dave Longo
Secretary Slater Announces Proposal to Permit Use Of Brake Testers to Inspect
Big Trucks, Buses
Continuing efforts to
improve the safety of the nation's roadways by preventing truck- and bus-related
crashes, U.S. Transportation Secretary Rodney E. Slater today announced a
proposal that would allow inspectors to use performance-based brake testers to
check the brakes on large trucks and buses for compliance with federal safety
standards and to issue citations when these vehicles fail.
"These tests would
apply modern technology to truck and bus safety, supplementing labor-intensive
visual brake inspections," Secretary Slater said. "Use of these
machines will make roadside inspections more accurate and efficient and thus
help improve safety, which is President Clinton and Vice President Gore's
highest transportation priority."
testers (PBBT) assess vehicle braking capability by measuring the individual
wheel brake forces or overall vehicle brake performance in a controlled test.
Specific testers addressed in the proposal include the roller dynamometer,
breakaway torque tester, and flat-plate tester. The proposal by the U.S.
Department of Transportation's Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration
(FMCSA) would allow state and local enforcement officials to issue vehicle
citations based on PBBT test results.
"This is an excellent
example of using technology to improve motor carrier safety," FMCSA Acting
Deputy Administrator Clyde J. Hart Jr. said. "PBBTs provide a new and
better way to identify vehicles with unsafe brakes and will help us achieve our
goal of reducing truck-related fatalities 50 percent by the year 2010."
Hart said that the new
technology could greatly increase the number of roadside brake inspections that
can be completed over a given time and improve the accuracy of identifying
unsafe brakes on CMVs. Currently, "hands-on" brake examinations are
made by enforcement personnel who must crawl underneath the vehicle to visually
examine critical brake system components.
PBBT devices would be more
efficient because they provide an objective and consistent measure of vehicle
braking performance. However, this proposal does not eliminate the
"hands-on" method for determining compliance with braking regulations.
This action, a notice of
proposed rulemaking, is a product of a multi-year research program by the agency
and public meetings to gather information from state officials and PBBT
manufacturers and users, including motor carriers. The research included field
test evaluations of commercial motor vehicles (CMV) by 10 states and several
fleets, in which the brakes on nearly 3,000 vehicles were inspected by state
officials using both PBBTs and the current visual examination method.
Key features of the
State and local
enforcement officials and motor carriers would be allowed to use PBBTs as an
optional method of assessing CMV compliance with federal braking
Certain PBBTs would be
eligible for funding under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program (MCSAP).
The MCSAP is a federal program, administered by FMCSA, through which funds
are provided to states and U.S. territories in support of CMV safety.
CMVs tested for
compliance using PBBTs would be required to achieve the same level of
braking forces that are required under the current regulation. Levels may
vary by vehicle class.
In addition to
addressing CMV stopping capabilities, the NPRM requests comments from the
public on the use of PBBTs for assessing CMV parking brakes and lane
stability. FMCSA is also planning to conduct additional research in those
two areas. Persons providing comments are requested to include supporting
rationale and test results or other documentation.
Comments are also
requested on PBBT operator training materials. FMCSA plans to work with PBBT
manufacturers and users to develop the training materials for use by state
and local enforcement officials, as well as commercial vehicle fleets, to
improve their safety maintenance programs.
Accompanying the proposal
are functional requirements for the new devices, public Docket Number
FMCSA-98-3611, to assure a minimum level of performance when purchased by states
with federal funds. These include requirements for accuracy, calibration,
environmental resistance, and operator safety.
Comments should be sent by
Oct. 8, 2000 to the Docket Clerk, U.S. DOT Dockets, Docket No. FMCSA-99-6266,
Room PL-401, 400 Seventh St., S.W., Washington, D.C. 20590-0001. Internet users
may access all comments received by the U.S. DOT Docket by going to
Comments also may be submitted at this site.
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