Study touts cost benefitsof truck stability systems

A new report from the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) and the American Trucking Research Institute (ATRI) says that the benefits of using roll stability control systems (RSC) on commercial vehicles over a period of five years outweighed the costs at every efficacy rate and each vehicle miles traveled (VMT) category.

"The reports provide an objective and sophisticated review of the return-on-investment that carriers can realistically expect from deploying these important safety tools,” said Don Osterberg, vice-president, safety and driver training, Schneider National and chairman of ATRI’s research advisory committee. ATRI is part of the American Trucking Associations (ATA) Federation.

According to the report, truck fleets got more than a dollar back in quantifiable benefits for every dollar spent on roll stability control systems, ranging from $1.66 to $9.36 based on different VMT, system efficacies, and technology purchase prices.

FMCSA said the analysis is part of an ongoing effort to encourage voluntary adoption of onboard safety systems by refocusing benefit-cost assessments from more general societal impacts to targeted motor-carrier-industry outcomes. The RSC report will be followed by a study of the benefits of using electronic stability control (ESC) systems.

According to FMCSA’s analysis, it was estimated that between 1,422 and 2,037 combination vehicle rollover crashes in curves could be prevented by using roll stability control systems. Costs that could be reduced or eliminated included workers’ compensation, operation, cargo delivery, property damage and auto-liability, environmental, fines, and legal or out-pocket settlements.

Added together, the median cost of a property-damage-only rollover crash is $196,958, an injury rollover crash is $462,470, and a fatal rollover crash is $1,143,018, the report said.

In general, there is a quicker payback for larger carriers using RSC than smaller ones, according to the report. Because small carriers are unlikely to be self-insured and usually have lower deductibles, they may not achieve a break-even point in the first five years, while larger carriers will more likely recoup their investment in less time.

However, if a carrier gets into several crashes their insurance premium costs will increase until their insurance costs equal or exceed the investment costs of the RSC system or the carrier is dropped altogether by the insurance provider, FMCSA said.

The crash avoidance costs were based on average VMT and expected crash reductions. The cost of the RSC system included the technology purchase price, maintenance costs and the cost of training drivers in the use of the technology.

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