In May the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) proposed a requirement that all heavy duty trucks and certain buses be equipped with electronic control stability systems in two to four years. The NHTSA estimates that this change will help deter commercial truck rollover accidents, which now account for 700 deaths a year.
The electronic control stability systems are designed to prevent untripped rollovers and minimize severe under-steer or over-steer conditions that lead to loss of control. When onboard sensors detect these conditions, the system automatically reduces engine torque output and applies appropriate braking force controlled by computers.
The NHTSA cited the success of stability control systems in reducing rollover accidents in passenger automobiles when it announced the new truck and bus mandate. The agency estimates the technology could prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes by heavy duty trucks.
The trucking industry is fighting the proposed change. Truck manufacturer representatives claimed in a July 26 hearing before the NHTSA in Washington, D.C. that the systems would be cost-prohibitive.
Negligent actions by trucking companies that cause accidents – such as driver error or faulty maintenance – are catastrophic enough. Trucking accidents result in millions in property damage and thousands of fatalities each year. It’s difficult to comprehend, then, that when there is a technology that may help prevent trucking accidents and save lives, the trucking industry is reluctant to accept it. Unless, of course, when the main cause for such reluctance is financial.