David S. Jasmer
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Agency Proposes Rule That Would Require ESC Systems on Big Rigs

An "electronic stability control" system - often called an ESC system - is computerized safety equipment that, when installed in a large commercial truck or bus that uses air brakes, helps the driver rein in the vehicle when in danger of rolling over or traveling out of control.

ESC systems work by imposing automatic engine-torque changes and delicate individual wheel braking when the system receives signals the driver may be losing control.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed a new regulation on May 23, 2012, that would require appropriate heavy trucks over 26,000 pounds and certain coach buses to be equipped with ESC systems. In its notice of proposed rulemaking, the NHTSA released these safety estimates if the standard is adopted:

  • Fewer yearly trucking accidents: 1,807 to 2,329
  • Untripped rollover crashes: 40 to 56 percent reduction
  • Loss-of-control crashes: 14 percent reduction
  • Fewer injuries: 649 to 858
  • Few fatalities: 49 to 60

The agency will hold a public hearing this summer on the proposal and public comments on the proposed rule may be submitted until august 21, 2012.

Some large vehicles already use the systems, and NHTSA estimates the average cost per unit for an individual ESC system to be about $1,160.

At least one opponent, the OOIDA (Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association), feels that instead of the government imposing the equipment that could hurt small businesses financially, the emphasis should be on better driver training and "cab-crashworthiness standards."

Source: Land Line Magazine, "Rule would require truck stability systems at $1,160 a pop," David Tanner, May 17, 2012

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