By John Cooper, Virginia Trucking Accident Lawyer
Tractor trailers can be a nightmare on Virginia’s busy interstates such as I-64 and I-81. Drivers are often running late and driving too fast for the conditions. Trucks can easily topple over, endangering other drivers and passengers.
In the future trucks may become safer. It has been a pipe dream for some time but there is now a timetable in place for improvement now after Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx announced last year that electronic stability control (ESC) systems will be required on large trucks and buses from 2017.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has been officially working on Electronic Stability Control for more than three years, following direction from Congress. The technology has been available for big rigs for more than a decade but this is the first time it has been made mandatory.
According to the NHTSA the new systems are designed to “reduce untripped rollovers and mitigate severe understeer or oversteer conditions” that result in a loss of control through the use of automatic computer-controlled braking and reducing engine torque output. When a driver’s own steering and braking can’t prevent a crash, ESC will kick in and maintain directional control. The system is predicted to save about 50 lives every year and prevent up to 1,759 crashes involving big trucks.
Electronic Stability Systems Will Also Be Fitted on Buses
The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act of 2012, directed NHTSA to consider an ESC on buses as well.
The final rule requires ESC systems on heavy trucks and large buses exceeding 26,000 pounds in weight. Compliance is tested using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp, a common place for trucks to flip over. The requirement will take two years from 2015 for heavy trucks and three years for buses larger than 33,000 pounds and four years for buses weighing between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds.
Any measures to improve the accident rate of the trucking industry are to be welcomed. Despite a toughening up of federal hours of service rules, we still see numerous accidents being caused by drowsy and careless truck drivers. A study by the International Institute for Highway Safety concluded the stability control, forward collision warning, and side view assist systems could cut the number of truck crashes by 28 percent.
If you or a loved one has been injured in a big rig crash, call us at Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers for a free consultation at (866) 455-6657.