Federal Agency Proposed Mandatory Stability Control System

A federal agency recently proposed requiring that manufacturers install brake safety systems in nearly all new large trucks and buses, including motor coaches. The computerized electronic stability control (ESC) system, if installed properly, automatically brakes to prevent rollover accidents. Rollovers are the most dangerous truck accidents for drivers and passengers.

Proposed Rule

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration already requires a stability control system in passenger cars, sport utility vehicles and light trucks for this 2012 model numbers. The system has proven effective in reducing rollover accidents. NHTSA officials are confident it will have the same effect for larger trucks and buses.

Under the proposed rule, all new vehicles over 26,000 pounds must include the system, beginning two to four years after adopting the rule. The agency's Notice of Proposed Rulemaking is now subject to a public comment period of 90 days, followed by a public hearing, before the final rule is drafted and adopted.

Electronic Stability Control System

The ESC system's sensors automatically detect when a driver has lost control. The computer instantaneously brakes some or all of the vehicle's wheels to maintain stability. This can help avoid loss of control due to poor or icy conditions, unexpected obstacles, or a driver's steering overcorrection, preventing skidding or a rollover.

The research strongly demonstrates the system's effectiveness. If properly used, the technology could cut rollover crashes by more than half, and loss-of control crashes by nearly 15 percent. The NHTSA says enacting the proposed rule would eliminate 2,329 large vehicle crashes, about 750 injuries, and an estimated 55 accident fatalities. One expert calls it the "most important advance in auto safety since the development of the seatbelt."

The system is expensive, however, with a current cost of between $1,800 and $2,300 per vehicle, according to manufacturers. Perhaps 25 percent of new trucks and tractors employ the technology.

Experts believe that a rule requiring stability control technology in trucks and buses will prevent accidents and save lives. A driver that is injured due to the lack in safety from stability control failure may be entitled to damages from the negligent trucker. A personal injury attorney can help the injured motorist file claims with insurance companies and against the negligent trucker for lost wages, medical expenses and pain and suffering in some cases.