Electronic Stability Rule – A Move towards Rollover Reduction

Last month, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) issued its final rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks and large buses.

Regulations don’t rise very high on any business’ “most favorite” lists, but the NHTSA’s ruling on installing electronic stability control systems in heavy trucks is definitely being lauded by the American Trucking Associations (ATA). “Ensuring the safety of America’s highways has always been ATA’s highest calling,” said Bill Graves, ATA’s President and CEO, “and we’ve long known the positive role technology can play in making our vehicles and our roads safer. Today’s announcement by NHTSA will reduce crashes on our highways and make our industry safer.”

When it comes to truck driver safety, that’s especially true, according to ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki, who said, “Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety. We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry.”

Whether you drive a truck, a bus, or a car, you undoubtedly at some point have had your trip impacted by a truck or trailer that’s turned over, spilling its load onto the road. You’ve probably grumbled about the amount of time lost by sitting in traffic, but did you ever consider what happened to the driver of that truck? A newspaper article this past April in the Ogden, Utah Standard Examiner dealt with this very issue. The article, “Deadly exits kill hundreds of truckers in U.S. highway rollovers,” gave some unnerving details on this very dangerous situation. It also noted that most people don’t realize how dangerous this situation is for truckers. The article notes that only 3.3 percent of all large-truck crashes are rollovers; however, those rollovers were responsible for more than half the deaths to drivers and occupants in 2012. That comes out to 300 truck occupant deaths and 3,000 injuries every year, the article states.

The causes of rollovers vary, but our nation’s crumbling highways and bridges certainly add to the problem, especially on curves that were built decades ago. Many times, it’s drivers who take a curve too fast. Sometimes, through no fault of the driver, a car cuts the truck off, forcing the truck driver to simultaneous brake and veer too far one way or the other. The result: a rollover.

The most dangerous spot in America for rollovers, according to the American Transportation Institute, may be Atlanta where more than 200 trucks have flipped since 2001, resulting in the deaths of more than 200 people. To realize how dangerous rollovers can be, the Standard article cites a frightening stat from University of Michigan research, “Experiencing a rollover increases a truck driver’s risk of dying in a crash by 30 times! Ejection, or partial ejection from the cab, are the highest causes of death.”

According to an article in Truckinginfo.com, “The mandate will take effect in 2017 for the most heavy trucks; compliance will be measured using a ‘J-turn’ test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.” ESC systems are now standard for automobiles, so it’s only natural that this would take effect for trucks and buses as well. It’s reassuring to know that many of the nation’s larger fleets are already using this life-saving technology.

Learn more about the NHTSA mandate.

Joe Puff

About Joe Puff

Joe Puff is the Vice President of Truck Technology and Maintenance for NationaLease. He has more than 35 years of experience in complex sales and fleet operations, including extensive experience in commercial vehicle maintenance. Joe is responsible for advising NationaLease members and the National Account team of new truck technology, industry trends, and maintenance best practices.

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