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This NHTSA Rule May Reduce Truck and Bus Rollover Crashes

On behalf of Joel Rhine of Rhine Law Firm, P.C. posted August 21, 2017

Accidents that involve truck or bus rollovers are relatively rare, but they have devastating consequences. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety states that rollovers represent 2% of accidents, but cause over one-third of traffic deaths. In 2013, more than 7,000 lives were lost nationwide in these crashes. Fortunately, a new federal rule could reduce the risk of these catastrophic accidents for drivers in Wilmington and other parts of North Carolina.

Electronic Stability Control Mandated

The Detroit News reports that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently announced a rule that requires all trucks and buses to use electronic stability control. This technology compares the way that a vehicle is traveling with the input from the vehicle’s driver. If the driver appears to be losing control, the system applies braking pressure to the appropriate wheels to prevent rollovers or loss of stability.

ESC has been a mandatory feature in passenger vehicles for several years. Over a three-year period, this technology prevented enough accidents to save about 2,200 lives. The use of ESC in trucks and buses may be even more impactful, since these vehicles are often at greater risk for rollovers because of their high centers of gravity.

Projected Safety Effects

The implementation of this rule is expected to have noticeable effects on highway safety. The NHTSA states that, in general, ESC can be up to 56% effective at reducing rollovers. Additionally, the technology is 14% effective at lowering the number of crashes that involve under-steering or over-steering. The NHTSA predicts that the widespread use of ESC in buses and trucks will have the following effects:

  • It will prevent 1,759 truck and bus accidents that involve rollovers each year.
  • This reduction in accidents will prevent 649 personal injuries and save 49 lives.

These changes could have huge effects in North Carolina, where bus accidents and large truck accidents cause a high number of injuries and deaths each year. According to the state’s Department of Transportation, in 2013, these accidents resulted in 123 deaths and over 3,000 injuries.

Short-Term Outlook

According to the Detroit News, these rules will have a staggered start. All new three-axle truck tractors must have ESC technology by August 2017. Buses that weigh over 33,000 pounds must begin using the technology by 2018. Smaller buses and other large trucks have until 2019 to start using ESC.

In the meantime, the threat of rollover accidents remains high. Additionally, even with ESC technology in place, there is always a danger of rollover crashes occurring when vehicles hit objects or depart the road. Sadly, a number of these accidents happen when drivers are distracted, fatigued, or otherwise fail to give due attention to driving.

Given the devastating consequences that rollover accidents can have, it is important for victims of preventable crashes to consider seeking legal recourse. The motor vehicle accident attorneys at Rhine Law Firm, P.C., may be able to provide assistance to people who have been harmed in rollover accidents that involved negligence, so give us a call.

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