Complaint about proposed underride guard regulation: Not Cost Effective

As soon as I read the Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking for Underride Protection on Single Unit Trucks, I could smell trouble.

To begin with, I have questions about NHTSA’s  figures, especially undercounting deaths from underride and the overlooking of possible saved lives from requiring improved underride standards on trailers.  https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=underreporting%20of%20underride%20deaths

Then, this is what I read in NHTSA’s explanation as they spelled out their cost/benefit analysis:

http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0001

b. NHTSA’s Cost-Benefit Analysis (Overview)

As part of its evaluation of whether an underride guard requirement should apply to SUTs, NHTSA conducted a cost-benefit analysis of equipping SUTs with rear impacts guards. The analysis is set forth in Appendix A of this preamble, and an overview is provided below. We are requesting comments on the analysis. . . 

Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation (35) identifies $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

Actually, the VSL, as of June 17, 2015, is now $9.4 million. No matter because it still would not be anywhere near the supposed cost of requiring rear impact guards on SUTS (with, of course, certain exempt ones which are already able to prevent underride with their current equipment).

The logical outcome is that the industry will lobby against this rulemaking. I am concerned that cost may too likely win out over preventing countless persons from surviving a truck crash.   http://annaleahmary.com/2015/10/rear-ending-a-truck-should-be-a-survivable-crash-why-isnt-it/

As an example of this, see the two most recent Public Comments on this ANPRM — posted November 2, 2015:

  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0066 “An agency rule may be arbitrary and capricious if the agency, ‘entirely failed to consider an important aspect of the problem’. Motor Vehicle Mfrs. Ass’n of the U.S., Inc. v. State Farm Mut. Auto. Ins. Co., 463 U.S. 29, 43 (1983). Without considering the costs to the roads and bridges, any factual determination of the costs and benefits of requiring single unit trucks to include read guards may be unreasonable and could demonstrate that the agency failed to consider an important aspect of the problem.”
  • http://www.regulations.gov/#!documentDetail;D=NHTSA-2015-0070-0065“7. By your own estimates in the ANPRM the rear impact guards are not cost effective and there are still additional costs with the proposal you have not included in the ANPRM.
    Guidance from the U.S. Department of Transportation \35\ identifies
    $9.1 million as the value of a statistical life (VSL) to be used for
    Department of Transportation analyses assessing the benefits of
    preventing fatalities for the base year of 2012. Per this guidance, VSL
    in 2014 is $9.2 million. While not directly comparable, the preliminary
    estimates for rear impact guards on SUTs (minimum of $106.7 million per
    equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that these systems will
    not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).As in the analysis for Class 3-8 SUTs shown in Table 2, the
    preliminary estimates for rear impact guards on Class 4-8 SUTs (minimum
    of $55.2 million per equivalent lives saved) is a strong indicator that
    these systems will not be cost effective (current VSL $9.2 million).”

VSL Guidance-2013-2 DOT value of life

DOT VSL Guidance, as of June 17, 2015:  https://www.transportation.gov/sites/dot.gov/files/docs/VSL2015_0.pdf

Rebekah photo of crash

GR Crocodile_Tears for Heavy Vehicle Safety 2004

p.s. This battle has a history:

1974 US Secretary of Transportation says deaths in cars that underride trucks would have to quadruple before underride protection would be considered cost beneficial.” 

https://www.google.com/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=1974+US+Secretary+of+Transportation+says+deaths+in+cars+that+underride+trucks+would+have+to+quadruple+before+underride+protection+would+be+considered+cost+beneficial.

 

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