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Safety Agency Proposal to Reduce Truck Accidents

Oct 18, 2014 Brown Moore & Associates Articles

North Carolina drivers can look forward to safer roads once a new federal standard for truck and bus safety goes into effect. The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration, a part of the U.S. Department of Transportation, proposed a requirement for all truck tractors to have electronic stability control (ESC) systems. The standard would also apply to some large buses.

How ECS Systems Improve Safety

ESC systems reduce engine torque output and control braking automatically to help keep vehicles in control when an individual wheel loses road contact, the driver over- or under-steers, or an attached trailer’s erratic movement threatens the truck tractor’s stability. In such situations on the road, rollovers are a risk. The NHTSA estimates that use of ESC systems in large vehicles would prevent about half of untripped rollovers and about 14 percent of truck accidents due to loss of control. The result would be 1,807 to 2,329 fewer crashes a year, 649 to 858 fewer injuries and 49 to 60 fewer deaths.

Implementing the New Systems

About one fourth of new trucks already are manufactured with ESC built in, according to the NHTSA. The systems are now almost universally used in truck trailers pulling tanker trailers, observed a representative of National Tank Truck Carriers. The requirement for most trucks and buses would take effect two years after the federal rule is finalized. While ESC is expected to make trucks and large buses safer to drive, the proposal is not likely to be embraced by everyone in the trucking industry. The Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association is likely to oppose an ESC requirement because of cost, according to a spokesman. Another trucking organization, American Trucking Associations, will probably support the NHTSA in calling for this required safety measure, though. NHTSA acknowledges that ESC costs about $1,160 per vehicle, for a total cost of $113.6 million in 2012. The system, though, should be cost effective. NHTSA estimates that net benefits could range from $155 million to $310 million, including value of lives saved. For those injured and killed on highways in North Carolina, it is hard to quantify their injuries. North Carolinians can take comfort in knowing that NHTSA officials recognize the value of their lives and wellbeing and are working to reduce the likelihood of accidents. Accident victims can find help by turning to a dedicated personal injury legal advocate to reclaim compensation for their injuries.