Fleet Management

NHTSA Issues Truck Electronic-Stability Rule

June 03, 2015

By David Cullen

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Outrigger-equipped for test-track safety, a rig demonstrates what happens when its electronic-stability control (ESC) system is not activated.
Outrigger-equipped for test-track safety, a rig demonstrates what happens when its electronic-stability control (ESC) system is not activated.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued its long-awaited final rule to require electronic stability control (ESC) systems on Class 7-8 trucks and large buses.

The rule, Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 136, will take effect for “most heavy trucks” in 2017, per NHTSA. The agency said that compliance will be achieved using a “J-turn” test that replicates a curved highway off-ramp.

“ESC is a remarkable safety success story, a technology innovation that is already saving lives in passenger cars and light trucks,” Secretary of Transportation Anthony Foxx said upon introducing the new rule on June 3. “Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.”

According to NHTSA, the mandate was needed because “ESC works instantly and automatically to maintain directional control in situations where the driver's own steering and braking cannot be accomplished quickly enough to prevent the crash.”

The agency stated that implementing “ESC will prevent up to 56 percent of untripped, rollover crashes-- that is, rollover crashes not caused by striking an obstacle or leaving the road.” NHTSA estimates the rule will prevent as many as 1,759 crashes, 649 injuries and 49 fatalities annually.

“Reducing crashes through ESC in these trucks and buses will save lives-– nearly 50 each year,” said NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind. “It will move goods and people more efficiently and reduce the toll crashes take on our economy through traffic delays and property damage. It’s a win for the safety and convenience of the traveling public and for our economy.”

The rulemaking effort dates back at least 2011, when the National Transportation Safety Board first issued a recommendation that ESC be required on heavy-duty vehicles. When the current highway bill (MAP-21) was enacted a year later, one of its provisions directed NHTSA to consider an ESC requirement for motor coaches, which are included in the final rule just issued. Also in 2012, a rule requiring light-duty vehicles to include ESC took effect.

The American Trucking Associations said it welcomed the mandate. “Ensuring the safety of America’s highways has always been ATA’s highest calling,” said ATA President and CEO Bill Graves, “and we’ve long known the positive role technology can play in making our vehicles and our roads safer. Today’s announcement by NHTSA will reduce crashes on our highways and make our industry safer.”

“Last month, NHTSA reported to Congress that truck rollover and passenger ejection were the greatest threats to truck driver safety,” said ATA Executive Vice President Dave Osiecki. “We can save lives by preventing rollovers with electronic stability control technology, and that’s a positive for our industry. Many fleets have already begun voluntarily utilizing this technology and this new requirement will only speed that process.”

Bendix Commercial Vehicle Systems LLC has advised that its supports NHTSA’s choice of ESC for its final rule requiring full-stability technology on heavy-duty vehicles. The manufacturer of ESC systems noted that the mandate will be implemented in three phases, starting August 1, 2017, for most three-axle tractors.

“At Bendix, we always prefer to let the market be the catalyst to drive safety technology adoption,” said Fred Andersky, director of government and industry affairs. “We believe ESC stands alone in terms of safety, performance, and value. And we have also seen a market acceptance of this technology – over RSC [roll stability control] – at a rate of three to one. This technology is another positive step on the part of our industry toward helping to further improve highway safety.”

According to Andersky, full-stability technology,which Bendix markets as its ESP Electronic Stability Program, “fully complies with the NHTSA rule.” He cautioned that it’s “critical for fleets currently equipping their vehicles either with ABS only or with roll-only stability systems to understand three key differences in order to better prepare for the arrival of full stability.”

He outlined those differences as follows:

  • “Full-stability systems use more sensors than either ABS or roll-only stability systems, creating a more comprehensive system capable of addressing both roll and directional stability. These additional sensors enable the unit to more quickly recognize factors that could lead to vehicle rollovers or loss-of-control. On dry surfaces, this means the system recognizes and mitigates conditions that could lead to rollover and loss-of-control situations sooner than roll-only options. Full-stability technology also functions in a wider range of driving and road conditions than roll-only systems, including snowy, ice-covered, and slippery surfaces. ABS systems are not designed to react to potential roll or loss-of-control situations.”
  • “Interventions can also differ. Full-stability systems rely on automatic brake interventions involving the steer, drive, and trailer axles, whereas roll-only systems typically apply the brakes only on the drive and trailer axles. Slowing the vehicle quickly helps mitigate rollovers faster, while slowing and redirecting can help the driver maneuver in loss-of-control situations.” 
  • “Stability systems are the foundation for advanced active safety technologies. For example, as a collision mitigation system detects a possible collision with a forward vehicle and automatically applies the brakes in order to prevent or lessen its severity, the brake system should help the vehicle maintain its stability throughout the maneuver. This level of performance is best achieved with a full-stability system that is consistent with the new NHTSA rule.”

Andersky also pointed to the high degree of market acceptance already in place. “In our view, the market had already made its technology choice known prior to the formal introduction of NHTSA’s rule,” he said.

“Industry-wide, full stability is outselling roll-only technology three to one, up from three to two in previous years,” Andersky added. “The increasing adoption of ESC demonstrates the willingness by fleets to invest in the technology because of full stability’s ability to help reduce the number of heavy truck accidents, improve safety records, and deliver the return on investment that fleets need.”


  1. 1. Billy Donahue [ June 03, 2015 @ 01:30PM ]

    Thank God the government will be paying for it!

  2. 2. Tommy Breedlove [ June 03, 2015 @ 01:44PM ]

    If the photo is any indication of that stability, better leave it alone !!

  3. 3. flatbed [ June 03, 2015 @ 03:09PM ]

    So now we need traning wheels?

  4. 4. Mtnflyer [ June 03, 2015 @ 04:18PM ]

    Wonder how much THIS will add to the cost of a new truck?
    " Our hats go off to OSHA
    for saving life and limb
    Those loonie Wrights at Kitty Hawk
    Will Never Fly Again!"
    A little ditty by Barry Asmus. Says it all. Government is just
    CRUSHING us , one step at a time, all in the name of safety.

  5. 5. Justin [ June 03, 2015 @ 05:36PM ]

    All of the new,expensive,mandates under the guise of "safety" are getting sickening!!
    NOBODY seems to consult and listen to the person behind the wheel for real answers to real situations.Any driver consultation goes in one ear and out the other.
    The real answer to real highway safety would be to hold ALL drivers to the same standards and scrutiny that are always thrust upon the professional commercial vehicle driver. Trouble is,proffessional drivers rarely vote.Everyone else does vote.Therefore to keep the majority of voters suppressed,you cater to them and crush the remainder with conflicting regulation.

  6. 6. Frank [ June 03, 2015 @ 07:14PM ]

    Looks of that photo he must have E Logs having to Rush. I voted two weeks early but my man didn't get it let's pray that we get better leader ship in office and vote conservative for God ,Country,Freedom or it will get worse.

  7. 7. Peter [ June 03, 2015 @ 07:35PM ]

    The CSA system was to be the cure-all. Now there is a need for an anti-tipping device in trucks.

    Well, I am disgusted because of things like this. Why, you might ask. Well I feel we are not demanding enough from the drivers that are out there now. Let me clarify.

    As a former tanker driver myself, I had to be on my toes constantly, much like all tanker drivers are. Now, I would guess that this would be the most common product that would roll over quicker than any other due to the constant motion during transportation.

    All drivers need to be on their toes and pay attention to what they are doing. In 20 years and 1.9 million miles, I did not need a roll over device.

    Will this make drivers over confident and make more careless mistakes I wonder. Time will tell.

    If drivers need to have this device, then I feel we need to train the drivers with a more in depth training. It is the company who needs to be the responsible one. Either the driver works hard and learns his craft, or he/she goes home and the company needs to find a driver who will learn their craft.

    Thank you.

  8. 8. Paul [ June 04, 2015 @ 10:12AM ]

    I agree with Peter....the real problem with safety is the quality of driver we have on the road today...the guy who is driving a truck only for a paycheck and could absolutely give a crap less about the industry....do the minimum, get your check and go home. These are the same guys that cut you off every time they change lanes, the guys who speed up when you try to pass although they had been slowing you down, the same guys who at night in the Truckstop take 25 try's to get into a triple wide parking space. How smart do you have to be to realize that the more crap you put on a class 8 truck, the more it drives the price out of reach of the small operator....the more crap you put on a truck to do the job of the driver, the less qualified drivers we will get....good Lord man, if the guy can't figure out he's going to fast on the off ramp HE SHOULDNT BE DRIVINGTHE TRUCK!!! I've been driving for 45 years, and Ive watched our industry go straight into the crapper....log book rule changes, cameras, emission standards that are unrealistic...on and on....what we really need is the government the hell out of our industry....and concentrate more on the DRIVER than on the TRUCK.

  9. 9. DWSPENCE [ June 04, 2015 @ 10:30AM ]

    by the time Obama is out of office trucks will cost $250000, be operated by with 30 hours of driving time, be the most stressed out and unsafe group of drivers in history but they will be compliant

  10. 10. Steve [ June 05, 2015 @ 02:16AM ]

    I never found it to be a good idea to take the responsibility away from the individual.

  11. 11. Mike [ June 11, 2015 @ 06:58PM ]

    I wonder how much money Bendix through at NHTSA to get their stability control system on all of the new trucks? Follow the money.

  12. 12. Mike [ June 11, 2015 @ 06:59PM ]

    I wonder how much money Bendix threw at NHTSA to get their stability control system on all of the new trucks? Follow the money.

  13. 13. [email protected] [ July 16, 2015 @ 02:14PM ]

    I appreciate to my country an incidence like this can rise due to. Drivers ignorance,drunknes,overconfidence with the carring unit they handle,and as well disregardness of road status thus wet,slippery,or gravel,and as well high speed in a strange road with no regard to to road signs indications


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