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NHTSA Issues Stability Control Mandate

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a final rule that will mandate Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems on truck tractors with a GVWR of more than 26,000 pounds. NHTSA was directed by Congress in the Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century (MAP-21) highway bill to complete this rulemaking. ESC systems are capable of providing all of the functions provided by roll stability control (RSC) systems (which prevent rollover by decelerating the vehicle using braking and engine torque control), plus the ability to mitigate severe over-steer or understeer conditions by automatically applying brake force at selected wheel-ends to help maintain directional control of a vehicle. The agency called the rule "highly cost effective and beneficial."
 
NHTSA says that the rule will prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes. This should translate to a prevention of as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries, 49 fatalities, the agency says. 
 
The rule will apply to all new typical three-axle truck tractors manufactured on or after August 1, 2017. All other truck tractors (such as two-axle tractors and severe-service tractors) will have four years of lead time, as opposed to a little more than two years for the three-axle tractors.
 
NHTSA estimates the average cost to include ESC systems on truck tractors will be $585. Approximately 150,000 truck tractors and 2,200 buses will be covered by this rule annually, leading NHTSA to estimate the cost of this final rule to be approximately $45.6 million.
 
This rule will not apply the ESC mandate to single-unit trucks, despite many formal comments suggesting that it should. NHTSA states in the rule that they are currently conducting research and testing to "study the safety benefits and performance criteria of ESC systems on single-unit trucks. The research is not yet complete. Furthermore, as we stated in the NPRM, the complexity of the single-unit truck population and the limited crash data available present a significant challenge to determining the effectiveness of stability control on these vehicles."
 
NHTSA also notes that the rulemaking will not require retrofitting of trucks currently in use, despite many formal comments suggesting that it should.
 
To see a copy of the final rule, click here. For questions, contact TRALA's Joe Sculley at jsculley@trala.org or by calling (703) 299-9120.