The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration proposed new guidelines for large commercial trucks and large buses that would require those heavy duty vehicles to have electronic stability control devices installed. The NHTSA says that a similar requirement for light duty passenger vehicles and trucks that was issued in 2007 has led to more than 2,200 lives saved based on a reduction in rollover accidents. The Transportation Secretary, Ray LaHood, cited the number of lives saved when touting the effectiveness of the electronic safety systems.
These safety systems, which come in several varieties, work through a series of sensors. These sensors determine when a driver is in danger of losing control of a vehicle based on speed, braking and turn angle. If the device determines that there is a danger of a rollover, it can automatically apply the brakes on individual wheels to stabilize the vehicle.
According to the NHTSA analysis, approximately 634 lives were saved in 2008 with that number growing to 863 in 2010. If installed in heavy duty vehicles, the NHTSA believes that there would be 56 percent fewer rollover crashes and 14 percent fewer loss of control crashes. Presently, approximately 10,000 people die every year in rollover crashes across all types of vehicle. That is true despite the fact that rollovers make up roughly 3 percent of all motor vehicle crashes.
The benefits of electronic stability control devices seem clear. Anything that can prevent fatal car and truck crashes will be a welcome addition to the transportation industry and to drivers everywhere.
Source: Detroit News, “NHTSA: Anti-rollover technology saving hundreds of lives annually,” by David Shepardson, 30 November 2012