Chicago may see fewer truck accidents under new NHTSA regulations

Over the years, automobile manufacturers have gradually improved the safety of passenger cars by adding a succession of important features to their fleets. Air bags, anti-lock brakes and electronic stability control are just a handful of the measures that have reduced car accidents and helped save lives. Now the trucking industry is getting on board with some help from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.

That agency has proposed a rule that would require all heavy-duty trucks and buses to have electronic stability control within two to four years. Electronic stability control can be particularly adept at preventing rollover truck crashes and jackknife accidents. According to NHTSA figures, electronic stability control would reduce accidents by the thousands and result in approximately 50 fewer fatalities annually.

Some of the bigger names in truck manufacturing have already adopted that safety measure of their own volition. But they are in the minority. According to NHTSA, only about one-quarter of trucks built this year will have electronic stability control. Some truck purchasers had expressed a preference for a cheaper alternative called roll stability control. While that measure would have helped decrease the number of truck accidents somewhat, NHTSA said that it chose the more expensive option because it was more effective.

Rollover and jackknife crashes can be devastating for passenger cars traveling alongside large tractor-trailers. Rollover accidents involving trucks and buses account for approximately 700 deaths annually, with many additional injuries. At times, jackknife crashes can be the result of driver negligence, including driving too fast in hazardous road conditions or tailgating. Victims harmed in a truck accident may be able to obtain compensation for their injuries.

Source: Bloomberg, “U.S. Proposes Anti-Rollover Technology Mandate for Trucks,” Jeff Plungis, May 16, 2012.