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by Tim Beissmann

The US Department of Transportation’s vehicle safety authority has proposed a new standard that would require all large commercial trucks and buses to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC).

The department’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) predicts mandating ESC on heavy vehicles could prevent more than 2300 crashes every year, eliminate more than 850 injuries and save up to 60 lives.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said research showed standard ESC on trucks and buses would also prevent 56 per cent of rollover crashes and 14 per cent of loss of control crashes.

“We’ve already seen how effective stability control can be at reducing rollovers in passenger vehicles – the ability for this type of technology to save lives is one reason it is required on cars and light-duty trucks beginning with model year 2012,” Strickland said.

“Now, we’re expanding our efforts to require stability enhancing technology on the many large trucks, motorcoaches, and other large buses on our roadways.”

Transportation secretary Ray LaHood described the proposal as “a major step forward” to improving the safety of heavy vehicles.

Research by the NHTSA found ESC to be the most effective tool for reducing the tendency for heavy vehicles to rollover or lose control. ESC employs sensors to monitor vehicle movement and steering and uses automatic computer-controlled braking to help avoid rollover incidents and aid the driver in correcting oversteer and understeer.

A number of trucks and buses in the US can already be ordered with ESC, but the NHTSA’s proposal would see the safety feature become mandatory for all vehicles.

The proposal has been published in the Federal Register and members of the public will have the opportunity to comment on it for 90 days.

Since November 2011, all new passenger cars introduced to Australia are required to be fitted with ESC. Some cars introduced before November without ESC, such as the Chery J1, can continue to be sold without it until November 2013 in all states except Victoria, where the ESC has been mandatory since January 2011.




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