NHTSA Issues Truck Electronic Stability Control Rule

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The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued its long-awaited final rule to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks.

The rule will take effect for “most heavy trucks” in 2017, according to the agency.

NHTSA indicated that compliance with the ESC systems will be achieved using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp, reports Heavy Duty Trucking.

According to NHTSA, the mandate was needed because “ESC works instantly and automatically to maintain directional control in situations where the driver’s own steering and braking cannot be accomplished quickly enough to prevent the crash.”

The agency stated that implementing “ESC will prevent up to 56 percent of untripped, rollover crashes – that is, rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road.” It estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities annually.

“Electronic stability control, ESC, is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx said in announcing the rule. “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.”

The rulemaking effort dates back at least 2011, when the National Transportation Safety Board first issued a recommendation that ESC be required on heavy-duty vehicles. When the current highway bill (MAP-21) was enacted a year later, one of its provisions directed NHTSA to consider an ESC requirement for motor coaches, which are included in the final rule just issued. Also in 2012, a rule requiring light-duty vehicles to include ESC took effect.

“Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety,” said ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki. “We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilizing this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process.”

in the meantime, the Canadian Trucking Alliance continues to work with Transport Canada on a similar rule in this country. So far, the federal department and the government of Ontario have expressed public support for legislating an ESC mandate nationwide, along with electronic logging devices.

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