Federal Tractor Trailer Electronic Stability Control Mandate Imminent

Any driver of a large commercial vehicle has a special responsibility to other motorists on the road: a truck accident is far more likely to injure occupants of other vehicles than a passenger vehicle crash.

But, evolving technologies are increasingly helping make the highways safer for everyone. Electronic stability control systems have proven to be a valuable crash-avoidance tool, and by the end of 2011, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (“NHTSA”) is expected to publish a proposal detailing standards for universal installation on most types of large trucks.

Numerous Safety Benefits of Stability Control Systems on Trucks

Using a series of sensors, electronic stability control systems compare a driver’s steering input against the vehicle’s actual direction (measured through lateral acceleration, vehicle rotation and the road speeds of individual wheels). Discrepancies are corrected by automatic brake application, and, if necessary, lowered engine throttle. The technology has been shown to be highly effective at preventing rollovers and other accidents caused by vehicle instability.

Starting in 2012, federal rules will require electronic stability control in all new passenger vehicles. Thus far, however, a similar requirement for large commercial trucks has been lacking.

When the NHTSA announced they would be considering a rule change mandating electronic stability control systems for trucks, many experts applauded the move. Approximately a quarter of trucks operating on U.S. highways already use electronic stability control, as a number of commercial carriers have voluntarily adopted the technology; NHTSA estimates that adding stability control systems to the rest of the American trucking fleet would save 66 lives and prevent some 1,000 injuries annually.

Not everyone is so enthusiastic about requiring stability control systems on trucks. Some trucking industry insiders are concerned that the upfront costs associated with the new technology could drive the cost of a truck beyond the reach of small business owners. Still, although adding electronic stability control systems would cost the trucking industry an estimated $107 million a year, savings from preventable property damage and delays alone would add up to an annual $372 million.

Potential to Reduce Truck Accident Injuries

Although the NHTSA’s proposal has its critics, electronic stability control has been proven to prevent injuries and save lives. The implementation of a mandatory installation requirement by the NHTSA could drastically improve roadway safety.

If you or a loved one has been involved in a truck accident, contact an attorney to find out more about your legal options.