US trucking faces mandatory electronic stability control

By: Brad Gardner

New requirement will apply in 2019 and is expected to save almost 50 lives each year

US trucking faces mandatory electronic stability control
All trucks in the US manufactured on or after August 1, 2019 will need to have electronic stability control fitted.


The US Government has moved to improve safety in its trucking industry by mandating electronic stability control (ESC) for vehicles weighing more than 11 tonnes.

The country’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that most of the industry’s heavy-vehicle fleet (three-axle trucks) will need to adopt the anti-rollover technology by August 1, 2017.

All trucks and buses manufactured on or after August 1, 2019 will need to have ESC fitted.

"This final rule is applicable to all new typical three-axle truck tractors manufactured on or after August 1, 2017," the NHTSA's ruling states.

"We believe that two years of lead time is sufficient for these vehicles to be equipped with ESC, given that this is a common platform for which ESC systems are readily available today."

"We are allowing four years of lead time for all other truck tractors.

"These vehicles include two-axle vehicles, which have been more recently required to satisfy new, reduced minimum stopping distance requirements, and severe-service tractors, for which we believe two additional years of lead time is necessary to design and test ESC systems."

The NHTSA estimates ESC will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities each year, while also preventing up to 56 per cent of rollover crashes not caused by the vehicle hitting an object or leaving the road.

"ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks," US transportation secretary Anthony Foxx says.

"Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users."

ESC has been a requirement in the US for light-duty vehicles since 2012, and the National Transportation Safety Board has been trying since 2011 to get it applied to heavy vehicles.

"Reducing crashes through ESC in these trucks and buses will save lives – nearly 50 each year. It will move goods and people more efficiently and reduce the toll crashes take on our economy through traffic delays and property damage," NHTSA administrator Mark Rosekind says.

The NHTSA toyed with the idea of managing roll stability control (RSC) as an alternative to ESC, but found that it did not offer the same safety benefits.

"This is because RSC systems are less effective at preventing rollover crashes and much less effective at preventing loss-of-control crashes," its ruling states.

"We also considered requiring trailers to be equipped with RSC systems. However, this alternative would save many fewer lives, would not be cost-effective, and would not result in net benefits."

The NHTSA says mandatory ESC is cost effective and beneficial, with the net benefits expected to range from US$412 to $525 million.

The department estimates the average ESC system will cost US$585 per truck and US$269 per bus.

"Based upon this agency’s estimate that 150,000 truck tractors and 2,200 buses covered by this final rule will be manufactured annually, the agency estimates the total technology cost of this final rule to be approximately $45.6 million," the NHTSA's ruling says.

Industry advocacy group the American Trucking Associations (ATA) says ESC will reduce crashes and improve safety.

"Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety," ATA executive vice president Dave Osiecki says.

"We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilising this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process."

In Australia, only New South Wales is mandating ESC. It will require all heavy vehicles travelling on its roads to have ESC fitted by 2019.

Independent federal MP Cathy McGowan last year urged the Federal Government to follow the lead of NSW by requiring ESC for all dangerous goods tankers — a move the Australian Trucking Association supports.


Subscribe to our newsletter

Sign up to receive the ATN e-newsletter, digital magazine and other offers we choose to share with you straight to your inbox

You can also follow our updates by joining our LinkedIn group or liking us on Facebook


Trucks For Hire | Forklifts For Hire | Cranes For Hire | Generators For Hire | Transportable Buildings For Hire