Heavy trucks present a problem for motorists nationwide; their sheer size makes them much more dangerous than passenger vehicles in the event of an accident. In addition, commercial trucks' large size makes them more like to be involved in rollover accidents.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has long been searching for a way to prevent these accidents from happening. Now, it thinks it may have found a solution in new electronic stability control systems. The NHSTA's research shows that making stability control systems mandatory could save 49 to 60 each year.
The technology is designed to prevent drivers from losing control of their vehicles. By adjusting engine torque and selectively applying the brakes, it can ward off rollover crashes by keeping all 18 wheels on the ground and stopping trailers from swinging.
The science behind the technology is sound, and the NHTSA is certain it would go a long way toward eliminating the fatalities caused by truck rollover accidents. However, truck manufacturers don't agree; they argue that stability control systems are unnecessary and worry that a mandate would be too expensive. To that end, manufacturers have taken legal action to either stop or delay the NHTSA's mandate.
At the present moment, it's difficult to say who will come out on top, but the DOT rarely allows an opportunity to make safety devices standard to slip by them. In the 1970s, seatbelts and car seats for infants were considered to be "accessories" and people were not required to use them. That quickly changed when it could be proven that these devices saved lives. Hopefully, the same thing will happen with electronic stability control systems.
Source: The Detroit News, "Truck makers push back on U.S. rollover-technology," Jeff Plungis, July 26, 2012.
For more information on rollover accidents, please visit our Chicago Rollover Accidents page.