In our last blog, we introduced the notice of proposed rulemaking for creating what will be known as FMVSS 128 – the AEB mandate. In this edition, we’ll get into some of the donut ingredients.

Why the mandate?

There are two reasons for the mandate – the need and the requirement.

Let’s start with the need.

Rear-end crashes happen. According to the “Large Truck and Bus Crash Facts” published in 2022 – reporting 2020 data, the latest version available – over 25,000 heavy trucks (GVWR>10,000lbs) were involved in rear-end crashes with passenger vehicles. That’s roughly three incidents every hour of every day in 2020. While the report notes that most of these are property damage-only (PDO) crashes, about 28% involved fatalities or injuries

In the NPRM, the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA) and the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration (FMCSA) take it further. On average, between 2017 and 2019, 60,000 crashes (11% of heavy vehicle crashes annually) were rear-end crashes in which the heavy vehicle (HV) was the striking vehicle. These resulted in 388 fatalities (7.4% of all fatalities in HV crashes), 30,000 injuries (14.3% of all injuries in HV crashes), and 84,000 property damage-only crashes.

Second, the Congressional requirement. Yes, Congress wanted the agencies to do this mandate.

Here’s a little history.

Over a decade ago – in 2012 – MAP-21 (Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act) was signed into law by President Obama after passing both houses of Congress bipartisanly.

Contained within subtitle G – the “Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2021” – was a requirement for stability control on motorcoaches – the “Motorcoach Enhanced Safety Act of 2021”. Specifically:

  • "SEC. 32703. REGULATIONS FOR IMPROVED OCCUPANT PROTECTION, PASSENGER EVACUATION, AND CRASH AVOIDANCE… (3) ROLLOVER CRASH AVOIDANCE. The Secretary shall consider requiring motorcoaches to be equipped with stability-enhancing technology, such as electronic stability control and torque vectoring, to reduce the number and frequency of rollover crashes among motorcoaches. (1)”

This congressional action became the stability control regulation, FMVSS 136, requiring stability control on highway tractors and motorcoaches with a GVWR>26,000 lbs. – Class 7 & 8.

Stability is the foundation of collision mitigation.

Moving forward to more current history.

In November 2021, another bipartisan Congressional bill was passed and signed into law, this time by President Biden. The new law's formal title is "The Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA)". You may be more familiar with its alternative title, the "Bipartisan Infrastructure Bill." As with MAP-21, it contains a few more goodies than infrastructure-related efforts. Sec. 23010 is dedicated to AEB and requires all commercial vehicles covered in FMVSS 136 or successor regulations to be equipped with an AEB system.

As noted in my last blog, the agencies took it a bit further to help close the donut hole, requiring most heavy vehicles – Classes 3-8 – to be equipped with an AEB system. Of course, to equip vehicles with AEB, they also must be equipped with stability control. Feeding two birds with one scone or solving two issues – rollovers and rear-end collisions – with one mandate!

Of course, the agencies just can't put forth a proposed mandate without proving the value of the benefits derived. Even though some folks may think the agencies go crazy on regulations and dictate rules whatever, wherever, and whenever they choose, Congress requires that the value of a regulation be proven – not only in lives saved, injuries reduced, and crashes prevented, but in monetary terms as well.

Not surprisingly, there are some significant benefits to be had from the implementation of this regulation. The next blog will look at the assumptions and numbers justifying this regulation. (Spoiler alert: While you might not agree with all the assumptions made, the numbers are part of the why and are good to know.)

(1) US Department of Transportation website page “Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21)”

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