By August 1, 2017, all heavy trucks will be required to be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). This mandate is the latest in a series of actions to improve safety taken by the federal government. Once implemented, the National Highway Transit Safety Association (NHTSA) expects the controls to prevent 1,700 crashes annually.
Electronic stability control helps drivers maintain control of their vehicle during extreme steering maneuvers. Using automatic braking of the individual wheels, ESC prevents the heading from changing too quickly (spinning out), or not quickly enough (plowing out). ESC happens so quickly that drivers do not perceive the need for steering corrections. If drivers do brake because the curve is more or less sharp than anticipated, the system is still capable of generating uneven braking to control the heading.
ESC has been called a remarkable safety success story by U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. Automotive experts agree, calling ESC one of the most important safety innovations since the seatbelt. Regulators expect the new rule to save 49 lives and prevent 649 injuries and 1,759 crashes each year. ESC is also expected to bring in $300 million in net economic benefits annually.
About 34% of new trucks leaving the factory are already equipped with ESC. In the short-term, the new requirement will raise the cost of trucks and put upward pressure on driver wages. Shippers will also share some of the costs via higher rates. In the long-run, electronic stability controls will make highways safer and make it easier to implement advanced technologies.