Proposed Rule Would Mandate ESC Technology

A rule suggested by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) would require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on new commercial trucks, buses, and motor coaches. The agency already requires ESC systems on all cars and light trucks beginning with the model year 2012.

The proposed rules are subject to a 90-day public comment period, followed by a public hearing. Automakers, vehicle safety advocates, and other parties will have the opportunity to suggest changes to the proposed rules before the agency publishes a final version.

ESC is designed to prevent loss-of-control accidents, including rollover crashes, which rank among the deadliest accidents. ESC system sensors report steering and movement data to a central computer that automatically engages the brakes in loss-of-control situations.

For example, the ESC system is designed to recognize skidding and overcorrecting incidents that can lead to rollovers. By selectively braking using certain tires, ESC gives the driver a better chance of regaining control of the vehicle. Nearly 30 percent of new truck tractors and 80 percent of new buses covered by this rule would be equipped with ESC technology.

The NHTSA researched ESC systems and crash accident data to support the proposed rule. The agency credited existing ESC systems with preventing many car accidents. According to NHTSA projections, implementing the rule could cut loss-of-control accidents by 14 percent and rollover accidents by more than half. The agency estimates that new ESC systems required by the rule would prevent around 2,000 crashes, 650 injuries, and 60 fatalities a year.

Source: DailyTech, "NHTSA Eyes New Rollover Prevention Rules for Large Trucks, Buses," Shane McGlaun, May 17, 2012