The U.S. Transportation Department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has finalized its rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy trucks and large buses. NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities each year. ESC will prevent up to 56 percent of untripped, rollover crashes. Untripped rollover crashes are rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road. The rule is also expected to provide net economic benefits of more than $300 million annually resulting from preventing crashes, reducing congestion, and preventing property damage,
The requirement will take effect in three years for buses larger than 33,000 pounds and four years for those weighing between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds.
According to the new Rule, ESC systems use engine torque control and computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle and maintaining its heading in situations in which the vehicle is becoming roll unstable (i.e., wheel lift potentially leading to rollover) or experiencing loss of control (i.e., deviation from driver’s intended path due to understeer, oversteer, trailer swing or any other yaw motion leading to directional loss of control). In such situations, intervention by the ESC system can assist the driver in maintaining control of the vehicle, thereby preventing fatalities and injuriesassociated with vehicle rollover or collision.
Consumer Reports is dismayed that school buses were exempted from the requirement. Consumer Reports estimates that ESC could be installed on school buses at a cost of just $269 per bus.
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