Freightliner completes DOT study on safety, reliability

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Freightliner has finished a three-year field-operational test of Electronically-Controlled Braking Systems and other safety equipment with the U.S. Department of Transportation. Conducted as part of DOT’s initiative to accelerate deployment to reduce accidents and fatalities, Freightliner says the study will be used to improve truck safety systems’ performance, reliability, durability and maintainability.

The study tested the compatibility of combinations of tractors and trailers equipped with ABS, ECBS, disc and drum brakes, and enabled safety technologies, which included adaptive cruise control, yaw stability control, roll stability control and air disc brakes. Official results of the test have yet to be released by DOT.

The program began in 2003 with Freightliner customers such as Wal-Mart, Battelle, Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems, Meritor WABCO and the U.S. Army Aberdeen Test Center participating. Wal-Mart dedicated a fleet of 48 new Freightliner Columbia tractors with 58-inch sleeper cabs to the project; the trucks were equipped with onboard computers, ECBS and ABS. Wal-Mart also outfitted 100 new Great Dane trailers with the required technology. The fleet then was operated out of the retailer’s distribution center in Colorado to collect vehicle and driver data.

The tractors were separated into two groups. The first group consisted of 40 tractors and 60 trailers that were used to determine the compatibility and performance of unmatched combinations of tractors and trailers equipped with ECBS or ABS. The remaining eight tractors measured ECBS and ECBS-enabled safety technologies on matched tractor-trailers with brake control systems from the same manufacturer.

Data was recorded over an initial six-month period from May to October 2005, with enabled technologies in the vehicles turned off. During the second six-month period from November 2005 to last April, the technologies were fully functional and interactive.