NHTSA to Require ESC for Commercial Trucks and Buses

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued its long-awaited final rule to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks and large buses.  The rule, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 136, will take effect for “most heavy trucks” in 2017, according NHTSA. The agency said that compliance will be achieved using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.   “ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said upon introducing the new rule on June 3. “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.” 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.” NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities annually. The American Trucking Association said it welcomed the mandate. “Ensuring the safety of America’s highways has always been ATA’s highest calling,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, “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.”  “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.”

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