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From Products Liability Law Daily, June 3, 2015

NHTSA adopts final rule requiring ESC systems on heavy trucks and large buses

By John Dumoulin

A final rule requiring electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy trucks and large buses has been issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The rule establishes new Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard (FMVSS) No. 136, Electronic Stability Control Systems for Heavy Vehicles. The purpose of the new standard, which will take effect 60 days after its publication in the Federal Register, is to reduce rollovers and loss of directional control of truck tractors and large buses. ESC systems automatically maintain directional control in situations in which the driver cannot steer the vehicle or activate the brakes quickly enough to prevent a crash (NHTSA Final Rule, June 3, 2015).

Background. NHTSA issued the rule under the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act. Under federal law, the Secretary of Transportation is responsible for prescribing motor vehicle safety standards that are practicable, meet the need for motor vehicle safety, and are stated in objective terms. The National Transportation Safety Board has recommended requiring ESC systems on heavy-duty vehicles since 2011. The Moving Ahead for Progress in the 21st Century Act (MAP-21), which was enacted in 2012, directed NHTSA to consider requiring ESC systems on motorcoaches. A rule requiring ESC systems on light-duty vehicles (FMVSS No. 126) took effect in 2012.

Specific requirements. The final rule requires ESC systems on heavy trucks and large buses exceeding 26,000 pounds in gross weight. It is applicable to all new typical three-axle truck tractors manufactured on or after August 1, 2017 and to buses over 33,000 pounds manufactured more than three years after the date of the rule. The effective date is set at four years from publication for buses weighing between 26,000 and 33,000 pounds

Impact. NHTSA believes that by requiring ESC systems to be installed on truck tractors and large buses, the final rule will prevent 40 to 56 percent of untripped rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes. The agency believes this will prevent 1,424 to 1,759 crashes, 505 to 649 injuries, and 40 to 49 deaths.

MainStory: TopStory MotorVehiclesNews

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