Friday, June 5, 2015

Department of Transport Makes Electronic Stability Control Mandatory on Freight Trucks and Buses

Technology Can Save Up To Fifty Lives Every Year
Shipping News Feature

US – The Department of Transport's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its final rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy trucks and large buses, exceeding 26,000 pounds in gross vehicle weight, which is estimated to prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities each year*. 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.

These automated emergency action systems are designed to reduce untripped rollovers and mitigate severe understeer or oversteer conditions that lead to loss of control by using automatic computer controlled braking and reducing engine torque output. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended a requirement for ESC on heavy-duty vehicles since 2011. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), enacted in 2012, called for NHTSA to consider an ESC requirement for motor coaches, now covered in the rule. A rule requiring light-duty vehicles to include ESC took effect in 2012. Transportation Secretary Antony Foxx said:

“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.”

The NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent up to 56% of untripped, rollover crashes, incidents that are not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road. Compliance will be tested using a J-turn test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp. It will take effect for most heavy trucks two years from publication with the requirement taking effect in three years for buses larger than 33,000 pounds and four years for those weighing between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds. NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind said:

“Reducing crashes through ESC in these trucks and buses will save lives – nearly 50 each year. It will move goods and people more efficiently and reduce the toll crashes take on our economy through traffic delays and property damage. It’s a win for the safety and convenience of the traveling public and for our economy.”

*The DoT says the final rule will save 1,424 to 1,759 crashes, 505 to 649 injuries and between 40 and 49 deaths at $0.1 to $0.6 million per life saved. This final rule is applicable to all new typical three axle truck tractors manufactured on or after August 1, 2017 with an allowance of four years of lead time for all other truck tractors. Full details of the final rule can be seen at the link above.