Last week, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration finalized a rule requiring Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems on new large trucks and buses.
ESC systems "use engine control and computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help the driver maintain control when the vehicle becomes unstable or experiences loss of control," according to the NHTSA's press release.
Experts estimate that these systems will prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes (not caused by a truck or bus striking an obstacle or leaving the roadway) and 14% of loss-of-control crashes. They also predict that the rule will prevent up to 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries, and 49 deaths each year.
The NHTSA realized that many trucking companies already choose vehicles equipped with ESC systems and they are hoping that their new rule will speed up the adoption this technology so that truck and bus drivers can have one more tool to help them stay safe.
The need for this technology is apparent after taking a quick glance through the news. Just last month, a bus carrying a minor league baseball team out of North Carolina flipped, injuring several players and a member of the team's staff.
The Carolina Mudcats, a Class-A affiliate of the Atlanta Braves, were leaving Salem, Virginia, and heading to Myrtle Beach, South Carolina to play a game against the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. Before they made it there, their bus flipped on Clarendon Chadbourn Road near the North Carolina-South Carolina border. The North Carolina Highway Patrol responded to the accident scene. Troopers said that the bus went into a ditch and flipped over at around 3:45AM. The driver of the bus was charged with exceeding a safe speed.
7 players and a team trainer were taken to the hospital as a result of the wreck. None of the injuries were life-threatening, but one player suffered a concussion and another suffered a dislocated finger.
Though it is not clear whether this bus had an operable ESC system on board, a safety measure of this sort could prevent this type of accident in the future. We applaud the NHTSA for creating this rule that prioritizes the safety of commercial truck and bus drivers and their passengers. We too hope that this rule results in increased safety for everyone on the road.