[Federal Register: August 27, 1998 (Volume 63, Number 166)]
From the Federal Register Online via GPO Access [wais.access.gpo.gov]
DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION
Federal Highway Administration
49 CFR Part 393
Public Meeting to Discuss the Development of In-Service Brake
Performance Standards for Commercial Motor Vehicles Inspected With
Performance-Based Brake Testers
AGENCY: Federal Highway Administration (FHWA), DOT.
ACTION: Notice of public meeting.
SUMMARY: The FHWA is announcing a public meeting to discuss the
development of commercial motor vehicle brake force regulations that
could be enforced by Federal and State officials using performance-
based brake testing technologies. The FHWA is nearing the completion of
a research program to evaluate certain performance-based brake testing
technologies, including roller dynamometers, flat-plate testers,
breakaway torque brake testers, an on-board decelerometer, and an
infrared brake temperature measurement system. Currently performance-
based brake testers may be used in commercial motor vehicle inspections
but only as screening and sorting devices because there are no Federal
regulations that make reference to brake force measurements as a means
of determining whether a vehicle has adequate braking capability. The
recommendations from the researchers would, if adopted by the FHWA,
enable Federal and State officials to use performance-based brake
testers as both screening tools and enforcement tools when vehicles
with inadequate braking capability are identified. The purpose of the
public meeting is to provide interested parties an opportunity to
review and comment on the researchers' recommendations.
DATES: The meeting will be held on October 2, 1998. The meeting will
begin at 9:00 a.m. and end at 4:30 p.m.
ADDRESSES: The meeting will be held at the Hyatt Regency Rochester
Hotel, 125 East Main Street in Rochester, New York.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION CONTACT: Mr. Larry W. Minor, Vehicle and
Operations Division, Office of Motor Carrier Research and Standards,
(202) 366-4009; Ms. Kate Hartman, Commercial Vehicle Operations
Division, Office of Motor Carrier Safety and Technology, (202) 366-
0950, Federal Highway Administration, 400 Seventh Street, SW.,
Washington, DC. 20590. Office hours are from 7:45 a.m. to 4:15 p.m.,
e.t., Monday through Friday, except Federal holidays.
An electronic copy of this document may be downloaded using a modem
and suitable communications software from the Federal Register
Electronic Bulletin Board Service at (202) 512-1661. Internet users may
reach the Federal Register's home page at: http://www.nara.gov/nara/
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In 1993, the FHWA initiated a research program to evaluate various
performance-based brake testing technologies for use on commercial
motor vehicles. The purpose of the program was to determine, through
field-test data collection, if performance-based brake inspection
technologies could improve or assist with the throughput and accuracy
of the current inspection techniques which involve visual examination
of components, measurement of push-rod travel on air-braked vehicles,
and listening for air leaks. Following the completion of the first task
of the program, in which various performance-based technologies were
analyzed, several of the systems were selected for evaluation in a
roadside field-test inspection program.
During the field tests, inspections were performed using both
visual and performance-based methods to compare their ability to detect
vehicle brake defects. In particular, a Commercial Vehicle Safety
Alliance Level 4 inspection (consisting of the brake and tire portion
of a Level 1 inspection) was conducted in addition to a performance-
based brake test. The dual inspections were performed by State
officials in each of eight States that volunteered to participate in
the field test program.
The data collected from these dual inspections were tabulated and
correlations were sought between: (1) Violations of the Federal Motor
Carrier Safety Regulations (FMCSRs) and the North American Uniform
Vehicle Out-of-Service Criteria used by officials in the United States,
Canada, and Mexico, and (2) various pass/fail criteria used by
manufacturers of performance-based technology. In addition to the
performance-based brake ``failure'' information, data relating to the
operational characteristics of each prototype machine were also
collected and evaluated. These data included setup and tear down times,
vehicle inspection times, maintenance requirements, user friendliness,
calibration procedures and results, operator skill-level requirements
and information to generate a cost-benefit analysis. A key source of
data was the interviews with State inspectors.
The preliminary findings from the first phase of the prototype
brake testing program are documented in an interim report, ``Evaluation
of Performance-Based Brake Testing Technologies,'' December 1995, FHWA-
MC-96-004. A copy of this report may be obtained by contacting one of
the individuals listed at the beginning of this notice. The interim
report presents findings based upon approximately one year of data from
roller dynamometers used in Colorado and Ohio, and a flat plate tester
Subsequent to the publication of the interim report, West Virginia
participated in the field test evaluation of a roller dynamometer.
Wisconsin is collecting data on a flat-plate tester, and Maryland and
Nevada are collecting data on breakaway torque testers. Connecticut
participated in the testing of a roller dynamometer for several months
but elected to discontinue its involvement in the research program. The
final report has been submitted to the FHWA by the researchers and will
be published by the FHWA later this year.
Determination of Eligibility for MCSAP Funding
On April 1, 1996, the FHWA issued a memorandum advising agency
staff that two specific performance-based brake testing machines are
eligible for funding under the Motor Carrier Safety Assistance Program
(MCSAP). On March 11, 1997, the FHWA issued another memorandum
announcing the eligibility for funding of a third performance-based
brake testing machine. The memoranda indicated that the devices are
prototypes, and are approved for screening and sorting purposes only.
This means that States may request MCSAP funding to purchase one of the
approved brake testers for use in screening or sorting vehicles at
On December 8, 1997, the FHWA held a public meeting at the National
Highway Traffic Safety Administration's (NHTSA) Vehicle Research and
Test Center to discuss the development of functional specifications for
performance-based brake testers purchased with Federal funds through
the MCSAP. A notice announcing the meeting was published in the Federal
Register on November 13, 1997 (62 FR 60817). The FHWA indicated that
final version of the functional specifications would be used by the
States as guidelines to determine whether the purchase of a specific
brake tester would be an eligible expense item under the MCSAP.
On June 5, 1998, the FHWA published a notice in the Federal
Register requesting public comment on the functional specifications (63
FR 30678). The comments from the participants in the December 8, 1997,
public meeting were incorporated to the extent practicable prior to the
publication of the June 5, 1998, notice. The FHWA will discuss the
comments received and present the final version of the function
specifications in a separate notice to be published in the Federal
Register at a later date.
Development of In-Service Brake Performance Standards
Currently, vehicles that fail a brake performance test must be
inspected to determine the reason for the poor test results. Motor
carriers cannot be cited for brake-related violations of the FMCSRs
solely on the basis of the results from a performance-based brake
tester because the current regulations do not make reference to the
specific aspects of brake performance that are evaluated by the brake
testers. Therefore citations are based upon the specific defects or
deficiencies found during the in-depth inspection.
The FHWA is considering the development of pass/fail criteria for
braking force that could be enforced by Federal and State officials
using performance-based brake testing technologies. As inspection
criteria or regulations are developed through the rulemaking process,
the use of the performance-based brake testing machines could be
expanded to include enforcement of the new Federal brake performance
standards. The new standards would be an alternative to the stopping
distances from 32.2 kilometers per hour (20 miles per hour) currently
specified in 49 CFR 393.52 but rarely enforced by Federal and State
officials because of difficulties in performing such tests at roadside.
If brake force standards are developed through the rulemaking process,
Federal, State, and local government inspectors would be able to issue
citations based upon the output from the brake testers. The public
meeting will provide interested parties with the opportunity to discuss
with the FHWA and the researchers, recommendations for brake force
In addition to a discussion about brake force standards, there will
be a presentation and discussion of the results from recently completed
round-robin tests of performance-based brake testers. During the tests,
a variety of performance-based brake testers were used to evaluate the
same test vehicles, a five-axle tractor-semitrailer combination vehicle
and a two-axle single-unit truck. The results from the round-robin
tests will enable the researchers and the FHWA to make direct
comparisons between the force measurements from certain brake testers
and stopping distances from 32.2 km/hr, and help resolve concerns about
using the brake testers for enforcement purposes.
List of Subjects in 49 CFR Part 393
Highways and roads, Motor carriers, Motor vehicle equipment, Motor
Authority: 49 U.S.C. 31136, 31502; 49 CFR 1.48.
Issued on: August 20, 1998.
Jill L. Hochman,
Acting Associate Administrator for Motor Carriers.
[FR Doc. 98-22951 Filed 8-26-98; 8:45 am]
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