Required use of ESC in trucks, buses may help reduce rollover crashes

A federal rule requiring trucks and heavy buses to start using electronic stability control technology by 2019 could significantly reduce rollover crashes.

Rollover crashes represent a significant safety concern for drivers in San Antonio and other parts of Texas. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, about one-third of passenger vehicle occupant fatalities occur in these crashes. Fortunately, a new National Highway Traffic Safety Administration ruling may help reduce the risk of rollover accidents that involve commercial vehicles.

Improving stability and control

The new rule requires large trucks and buses that weigh over 26,000 pounds to start using electronic stability control technology by 2019, according to USA Today. This technology detects when a vehicle is losing traction and brakes individual wheels to help drivers regain control. Although ESC has been a mandatory feature of passenger vehicles since 2012, many commercial vehicles still fail to use this potentially life-saving technology.

The widespread use of ESC in trucks and heavy buses should offer significant safety benefits. These gains include:

  • The use of this technology is expected to prevent up to 56 percent of on-road rollover crashes that don't involve collisions.
  • The new rule is projected to reduce the number of annual rollover crashes in the U.S. by about 1,700 accidents.
  • The NHTSA estimates that this reduction in bus and large truck accidents will save 49 lives and prevent 649 injuries on a yearly basis.

Without this rule, only about one-third of truck tractors would be equipped with ESC by 2018, according to The Detroit News. Similarly, 20 percent of heavy buses would lack this protective technology. These figures help underscore the positive effects that the new rule should have.

When to expect changes

The NHTSA requirement will be implemented in phases. Starting in August 2017, the NHTSA will require all newly built three-axle truck tractors to employ this technology. Other heavy trucks and buses will be required to start using the technology between 2017 and 2019, depending on their classification and weight. Therefore, the full safety benefits of this change may not be evident for a few more years.

In the meantime, commercial vehicle accidents may affect many people in Texas. In 2013 alone, the state recorded over 29,000 crashes that involved these vehicles, according to the Texas Department of Transportation. As a result of these accidents, 5,823 injuries occurred and 535 people lost their lives. Sadly, until more preventive measures and technologies are used to address common causes of commercial vehicle accidents, these crashes may keep taking a similar toll in coming years.

Options for accident victims

Tragically, many rollovers and other commercial vehicle crashes occur when drivers fail to take reasonable precautions. When accidents happen because of negligent behaviors, such as speeding or distracted driving, victims may have legal remedies. To learn more, victims or their family members should consider discussing the situation with a motor vehicle accident attorney.