NHTSA Announces ESC Technology to Become Mandatory for Large Trucks and Buses
The NHTSA has announced a final rule that will require electronic stability control (ESC) technology to be used in heavy tractor trucks and large buses that weigh 26,000 pounds or more in gross weight. For most heavy tractor trucks, the new rule will become effective within the next two years, but buses weighing 33,000 pounds or more will have three years to comply, and vehicles that weigh between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds will have four years to comply. ESC technology will be mandatory for all newly built three-axle truck trailers in August 2017.
The National Transportation Safety Board has been advocating for ESC technology to be used in large trucks and buses since 2011. Following several accidents involving large trucks and buses that gained a lot of media attention in 2012, Congress requested an investigation be done to determine whether or not ESC technology could be used to prevent such accidents. This new rule stems from that investigation.
ESC technology works to help drivers stay in control of their vehicles by acting to maintain directional control in situations when the driver’s steering and/or braking aren’t enough to prevent an accident. The NHTSA believes ESC technology is 40-56% effective in reducing rollover accidents and can eliminate up to 14% of accidents caused by oversteering or understeering.
Electronic stability control technology has been mandatory for all new cars, SUVs, and light trucks since 2011 and within three years, this requirement saved 2,200 lives. But without the new rule, the NHTSA estimates that only about one-third of tractor trucks and 80% of buses would have ESC technology. It’s believed that requiring ESC technology on these vehicles will prevent up to 1,759 accidents, 49 deaths, and 649 injuries every year. The technology will also prevent up to 56% of rollover accidents that aren’t caused by the vehicle veering off the road or hitting something in the road.
U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said of the rule, “ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks. Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.”
NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said the rule is, “…a win for the safety and convenience of the traveling public and for our economy.” Because they are so much larger and heavier than typical cars and SUVs, truck accidents are more likely to involve fatalities and are more likely to cause greater damage to other vehicles or property located right by the road. Of all accidents involving large trucks, 72% of fatal accidents that involve large trucks involve a tractor trailer. Not only are truck accidents more dangerous and cause more damage than ordinary car accidents, the traffic slowdowns that come along with accidents that involve large trucks cost millions of dollars in lost productivity and wasted fuel consumption every year.