NHTSA to Propose Stability Control Mandate for Commercial Trucks

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is proposing a rule that would mandate the installation of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems on all new heavy trucks and buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 pounds. NHTSA says the adoption of this proposal would prevent as many as 2,329 crashes per year, which would save up to 60 lives and prevent up to 858 injuries per year.


According to NHTSA Administrator David Strickland, 26% of all new truck tractors will be already equipped with ESC systems in 2012. ESC systems are believed to be able to prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes.

US Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood called the proposal by NHTSA, which is part of the Department of Transportation, "a major step forward to improving the safety of large commercial trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses.

NHTSA's announcement of the forthcoming rulemaking notes that there have been two types of stability control systems developed for heavy vehicles. The first is Roll Stability Control (RSC), which is designed to prevent rollover by decelerating the vehicle using braking and engine torque control. The second is ESC, which has all the capabilities of RSC, but also has the ability to mitigate severe oversteer or understeer by automatically applying brakes to help maintain the directional control of a vehicle, which the RSC does not do. In order to maximize benefits of the rulemaking, NHTSA has proposed to mandate ESC as opposed to just RSC.

NHTSA states that the average unit cost of an ESC system is approximately $1,160, and the total cost of the rulemaking would be approximately $113.6 million.

For most truck tractors and buses, the proposed rule would become effective two years after the final rule is published. However, NHTSA will include a provision that would provide an additional two years of lead time for three axle tractors with one drive axle, tractors with four axles, and severe service tractors. The proposal will not require any retrofits.

TRALA plans to work through its Equipment and Technology Advisory Council (ETAC) to develop comments in response to the proposed rulemaking. There will be a 90 day comment period from the date the proposal is officially published in the Federal Register.

To view a copy of the proposed rulemaking, click 
here. For questions, contact TRALA's Joe Sculley at or by calling (703) 299-9120.