Injured? Free Advice (844) 283-0656
We Help People Injured By Trucks

Electronic stability control systems now required on trucks and buses 

Written by Steve Gursten Posted July 7th, 2015

NHTSA rule will kick in August 24 for heavy commercial motor vehicles

electronic stability control

This is a safety blog, but it frequently includes litigation tips for attorneys who handle truck accident injury cases. The hope is that emphasizing the safety issues and solutions we see in our own cases will help make the changes needed for safer roads.

One-third of all fatal truck accidents could be prevented by the better use of the technology, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). And electronic stability control systems play a big part. So now the federal organization is putting its money where its mouth is, with its most recent safety rule for commercial motor vehicles:

The NHTSA has issued a rule requiring electronic stability control systems (ESC) on truck tractors and buses. The rule will be effective as of August 24, 2015.

Electronic stability control systems are computerized technology that improves a vehicle’s stability by detecting and reducing loss of traction, i.e. skidding. When the system detects loss of steering control, it automatically applies the brakes to help “steer” the vehicle in the direction the driver intends to travel. Some electronic stability control systems also reduce engine power until control is regained.

The new rule requiring such systems establishes a new safety standard that applies to heavy trucks and buses. It also includes some limited preemption language, providing that state common law tort causes of actions against motor vehicle manufacturers will only be preempted if the state laws impose lower standards than the ones established by this rule.

Below our trucking attorneys provide a summary of the new rule. You can also find the full text here.

Federal motor vehicle safety standards; electronic stability control systems for heavy vehicles

  • Requires ESC on truck tractors and certain buses with a gross vehicle weight rating of more than 26,000 pounds.
  • ESC in truck and buses is designed to reduce un-tripped rollovers and mitigate severe under-steer or over-steer conditions that lead to loss of control by using automatic computer-controlled braking and reducing engine torque output.
  • The NHTSA does not intend that this rule preempt state tort law that would effectively impose a higher standard on commercial motor vehicle manufacturers than that established by this rule. Establishment of a higher standard by means of state tort laws or safety regulations would not conflict with the minimum federal standard announced here.

It’s expected this final rule will prevent 1,424 to 1,759 truck crashes, 505 to 649 injuries, and 40 to 49 fatalities at $0.1 to $0.6 million net cost per equivalent life saved, according to the NHTSA.

Related info:

Steering the future: Volvo develops new steering technology 

Steven Gursten Photo

About Steve Gursten

Attorney Steven Gursten is president of the Motor Vehicle Trial Lawyers Association and past president of the American Association for Justice Trucking Litigation Group. He has been named a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Leader in the Law" for his efforts to prevent truck accidents and promote national truck safety. Steve was also a Michigan Lawyers Weekly "Lawyer of the Year" for a record settlement in a truck accident case. He has received the top reported truck accident jury verdict and top reported truck accident settlement in Michigan for multiple years, according to published year-end compilations of all jury verdicts and personal injury settlements by Michigan Lawyers Weekly. He has been named a "Top 50 Super Lawyer," by SuperLawyers, is listed in Best Lawyers in America, and has been awarded an AV-rating by Martindale-Hubbell, which is the highest rating for legal ability and ethics. Steve speaks to lawyers throughout the country on truck accident litigation. He is a founding member of the Truck Accident Attorneys Roundtable, head of Michigan Auto Law, and has dedicated his legal career to making our roads safer.