August 27, 2014
It’s been nearly five years since the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) published its final ruling updating Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 121 – Air Brake Systems, and re-introduced commercial trucking to reduced stopping distance (RSD).
Written with compliance dates in 2011 and 2013, the 2009 ruling forced OEMs and brake manufacturers to reduce emergency stopping distances for their new tractors by an astonishing 30 percent.
Though it wasn’t easy, OEMs eventually succeeded in meeting the regulations, and RSD technology is standard on all new heavy-duty trucks.
But now, as the first RSD compliant trucks begin to enter the aftermarket, the technology faces its next challenge — adoption.
Because FMVSS 121 only requires new tractors to meet RSD regulations, vehicle owners don’t have to accept the technology in the aftermarket.
But with clear safety and performance benefits, brake suppliers say the lack of an aftermarket regulation shouldn’t stop distributors from stock- ing RSD-compliant products.
On the contrary, now that customers are accustomed to RSD, suppliers say there’s an opportunity in the aftermarket for distributors willing to stock the slightly higher priced, but also higher performing components.
“There are a lot of safety-conscious fleets out there that want to maintain the same braking and stopping performance they have on their new trucks,” says Tim Bauer, business unit director, undercarriage products, aftermarket at Meritor. “To do that, you have to replace like for like.”