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Feds set deadline for electronic stability control systems on Class 7-8 trucks

Sources: National Highway Traffic Safety Administration; CP staff

A National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) rule requires electronic stability control (ESC) systems on trucks exceeding 26,000 lbs. in gross weight, and is to be implemented in three phases beginning August 2017. Agency officials estimate the rule will prevent nearly 50 fatalities plus more than 1,700 crashes and 600 injuries annually. They also credit ESC systems’ potential to curtail more than half of untripped, rollover crashes—those caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road.

“ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” said Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx upon announcing the rule. “Requiring ESC on heavy trucks will bring that innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.”

“Reducing crashes through ESC in trucks and buses will save lives[,] move goods and people more efficiently[,] and reduce the toll crashes take on our economy through traffic delays and property damage,” added NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “It’s a win for the safety and convenience of the traveling public and for our economy.”

ESC devices work instantly and automatically to maintain directional control in situations where the driver's own steering and braking cannot be accomplished quickly enough to prevent a crash. Compliance with the NHTSA rule will be tested using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.

The American Trucking Associations welcomes the announcement. “NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety,” notes ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki. “We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilizing this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process.”

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