New stopping distance mandate highlights need for fleet maintenance

Fleet managers may want to consider investing in equipment maintenance software as changes to federal legislation continue to raise safety standards for vehicles on U.S. highway systems. Truck accidents are a serious issue in today's transportation industry. According to data compiled by the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation (PennDOT), 12 percent of total fatal accidents in the state in 2010 involved large trucks, as reported by EIN News Desk. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) estimated 15,740 people have died this year alone as a result of automobile accidents.

The federal government has taken substantial measures to increase safety on roadways throughout the country. In fact, Mitchell 1, a vehicle repair business, reported on its blog the NHTSA recently implemented a new stopping distance mandate for trucks of varying sizes. A summary of the rule, which was drafted by the NHTSA in 2009 but officially implemented on Aug. 1 of this year, said all two-axle trucks will now be required to stop in less than 250 feet from 60 mph. Three-axle and four-axle vehicles must stop within a range of 250 to 310 feet when driving at 60 mph. The organization conducted comprehensive testing to determine the new requirements based on specific requests outlined in petitions sent in by various transportation companies.

"The test plan was to evaluate a tractor that, when tested while traveling at a speed of 60 mph, met the reduced tractor stopping distance requirement of 250 feet for vehicles loaded to (gross vehicle weight rating) without any margin," the NHTSA said.

New rules require new equipment
Because of this new mandate, fleet managers who own vehicles that fall under the targeted categories will have to update existing equipment with new friction material to ensure drivers are able to effectively stop at the appropriate distances.

The need to perform periodic maintenance on large fleets can come as a challenge for many freight businesses. Updating technology and adding new braking systems or friction material is often a complicated task for managers who are responsible for organizing a large number of trucks. However, advanced equipment maintenance software enables businesses to keep better track not only of which automobiles need work, but also of the time it takes to perform specific tasks. Multiple users can also easily obtain access to a wealth of productivity data that ultimately allows for a more streamlined, cost-efficient operation.