US issues NPRM mandating electronic stability control systems
May 17, 2012
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking that will mandate the use of electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy vehicles.
WASHINGTON, D.C. — The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has issued a long-awaited notice of proposed rulemaking that will mandate the use of electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy vehicles.
The rule would require full-stability systems on tractors with a gross vehicle weight rating of greater than 26,000 lbs (11,793 kgs).
The announcement was welcomed by suppliers of the systems, including Bendix, which had been pushing hard for a full-stability requirement rather than a roll-only stability mandate, which would protect against rollovers but do little to prevent loss-of-control incidents such as jackknifes.
“The government’s notice makes a clear statement, underscoring the advantages of full-stability technology, as opposed to roll-only technology,” said Fred Andersky, Bendix director of government and industry affairs. “While our preference is always to let the overall market drive choice, we support NHTSA’s selection of full-stability technology to mandate. We believe full-stability technology on tractor-trailers, highway motorcoaches and other large buses is critical to the safety of today’s highways. Bendix produces both roll-only and full-stability systems, but in our view, full stability is the superior technology, and the cost it adds is minimal.”
Meritor Wabco, which also produces electronic stability systems in addition to roll-only stability systems, is also on-board with the proposed rule.
“At Meritor Wabco, we take extreme pride in putting safety first and have long been at the forefront of ESC technology in North America,” said Jon Morrison, president and general manager, Meritor Wabco. “We continue to develop leading technology that will help our customers save lives, save property, and make our highways safer. We agree with NHTSA’s recognition of the benefits of ESC technology.”
Many fleets are already using stability systems. Several OEMs, including Volvo and Mack, have made stability standard for several years. Bendix says it has sold more than 175,000 units to date while Meritor claims to have placed 150,000 of its SmarTrac electronic stability control units into the field.
Still, Bendix estimates 70-75% of Classes 6-8 trucks are built and delivered without electronic stability systems every year.
NHTSA has conducted detailed research on both full- and roll-only stability systems and found that full-stability technology could prevent up to 56% of rollovers each year as well as 14% of loss-of-control crashes. It’s estimated that the new requirement could prevent up to 2,329 crashes in the US each year while saving 49-60 lives per year.
“When implemented, the proposed NHTSA ruling will help save lives on our roadways,” Andersky said. “The ruling reinforces our belief that full-stability technology offers the best choice to help prevent heavy truck accidents. And it demonstrates the importance of full stability as the platform for tomorrow’s active safety systems.”
The news is likely to be welcomed here in Canada as well, where the Canadian Trucking Alliance (CTA) has been pushing for a similar requirement.
“For years now CTA has been calling for stability control systems such as electronic stability control (ESC) to become non-optional standard equipment on all new tractors,” said David Bradley, president and CEO of the CTA. “It will probably take a couple of years to become law, but the fact is the technology works and for the growing proportion of carriers that are spec’ing new tractors with ESC, it’s cheap insurance.”
Bradley pointed out the benefits of an ESC mandate in Canada could exceed $170 million.
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