By on June 4, 2015

Heavy Truck Rollover Circa April 2006

Two years from now, all heavy trucks and large buses will be required to equip electronic stability control per a new rule from the NHTSA.

The new rule, finalized Wednesday, would affect all trucks and buses exceeding 26,000 pounds in total weight, USA Today reports, and is expected to prevent over 1,700 crashes, 649 injuries, 49 fatalities, and up to 56 percent of rollovers on the road per year once it comes into force in 2017.

U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx and NHTSA Administrator Mark Rosekind both offered praise for the new rule. Foxx declared ESC “a remarkable success story” in its implementation on cars since 2012, while Rosekind added the technology would be “a win for the safety and convenience of the traveling public and for our economy.”

The rule’s finalization, coming after a 2011 recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board to mandate ESC’s use in trucks and buses, was announced on the same day three were killed in an accident in Pennsylvania involving a semi-trailer colliding with a bus ferrying Italian tourists. Whether ESC would have prevented the accident remains unknown at this time.

[Photo credit: Bjørn Bulthuis/Flickr/CC BY-SA 2.0]

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25 Comments on “Electronic Stability Control Required On All Heavy Trucks, Large Buses By 2017...”

  • avatar

    ESC worked wonders for the safety of SUVs so it’s not unreasonable to think that it will also benefit large trucks and buses.

  • avatar

    Given how difficult emergency maneuvering is in trucks and other large vehicles, I can see this as a very good thing.

    That said, doesn’t ESC require ABS? Are there ANY ABS systems available for tractor/trailers? What about the data for the ABS sensor and yaw sensor? How long is it going to take to equip every trailer in the country with them? (Using a standard that does not yet exist.) Is ABS even compatible with air brakes? I could see ABS actuation depleting the compressed air supply rather quickly.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes ABS has been available on air brake systems for some time.

      The big problem is that a truck is usually not paired with a particular trailer. Yes there are owner operators that just pull the trailer they own but for the large companies and many of the independents the hook up to many different trailers.

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen lots of trailers with ABS; I know because they often have an indicator light on the side that says “ABS”.

      Beats me how the sensor solution works on trailers, but I imagine a standard for them would accompany the requirement.

  • avatar

    sirwired – I do believe that transport trucks have ABS for a few years now (2010) and automatic slack adjusters. In BC logging trucks used primarily off-road have an exemption. I suspect that is due to the extreme use being hard on the braking systems, sensors, and control mudules. I do believe that disc brakes are an upcoming mandate.

  • avatar

    This timeline to implement such system is pretty short,when you consider trailers have different loads , are attached to the trucks and not really integrated with it.Front rear brake bias nightmare.

    • 0 avatar

      From March, 2012:

      “A key safety system that provides vehicles with additional stability and traction – the Bendix® ESP® (Electronic Stability Program) full-stability system with Automatic Traction Control (ATC) – becomes standard in May 2012 on the majority of Peterbilt Motors Company’s heavy-duty trucks and tractors, including the newly announced 579, the company announced during the Mid-America Trucking Show in Louisville, KY.”

    • 0 avatar
      Lack Thereof

      Front/rear brake bias issues went away when trailers got ABS. ABS system handles all the biasing in panic maneuvers.

  • avatar

    Many of these stability and accident avoidance technologies are rather late coming to the transportation industry. It’s been technically achievable for a long time now. But no one has had the cojones to stand up to the transportation lobby and demand we get out of the 1930’s in terms of the technology used to transport the nation’s goods.

  • avatar

    I assume this only applies to new equipment and does not require retrofitting existing equipment. If so, it will take years to flush out the old stuff.

    • 0 avatar

      Yes it will take a couple of decades to get all the trailers fully compatible. The life of a trailer can be quite long since there isn’t a whole lot to wear out and a full “rebuild” is cheap since the only parts that potentially need replacing are springs, bushings, brakes and tires. Brakes and tires will always wear out and a set of springs and bushings are way cheaper than a new trailer.

      • 0 avatar

        Scoutdude – trailer frames can and do suffer stress fatigue. It also depends on where a truck and/or trailer spends most of its duty cycle. A truck/trailer running freeways in the warmer dryer states would live a lot longer than one running gravel or winter roads in -45C in Alaska or Northern Canada.

        • 0 avatar

          Yes they do, but around here a 25-30 year life span is not uncommon. Certainly it will vary greatly depending on use. I used to do DOT inspections so I’ve inspected a few trailer frames.

  • avatar

    Cue luddites complaining about the additional weight.

  • avatar
    Big Al from Oz

    This sounds very logical.

    I wonder why this hasn’t occurred before?

    I do see it an issue with multi-trailer setups.

    Lou, off road these system seem to do magic for the inexperienced. I don’t see how it would affect loggers driving jinkers.

    All they need to do is run all the wire harnesses through conduits.

    I do know many off roaders who drive in very harsh conditions, probably harsher than what the jinkers operate in.

    What do mining equipment manufacturers use? I’d bet they use electronics to the fullest.

    • 0 avatar


      Because it’s very hard to modulate an air brake system. Early ESP units would end up causing trucks to jackknife because the system would end up locking wheels up.

      But yea everything is easy….it’s just 80,000 lbs rolling down the road, just like cars!

    • 0 avatar

      @BigAl – truckers lobbied for exemptions for off-road use in BC due to sensors, lines, control modules etc. getting torn off by branches, sticks, rocks et al. Add to that mud, ice, snow, dust and freeze/thaw cycles. Brakes freezing up is common enough especially on trailers. They get loaded onto the truck or folded/collapsed onto themselves for the trip back to the cut block. The fact that they are not rolling makes them vulnerable to freezing up. The truck brakes stay warm because the tractor wheels are always rolling. Air lines do ice up even with water separators.
      I remember helping my dad a lot of times just keeping the various lights on his trucks working. Even in shielded positions vibration can cause wear and tear. I was with him once when an airline got damaged. His truck came to a rather abrupt stop. Fortunately it happened on flat ground at 10 kph.

  • avatar

    Adding blockers on the sides of trailer to prevent submarining of cars under the trailers would also be helpful…

    • 0 avatar

      I’ve seen plenty of trailers with these curved panels underneath that I assume are for aero, so couldn’t they just reinforce those and kill two birds with one stone?

      • 0 avatar


        Some of those guys get paid by the pound. You think they want to add another 200+ lbs of metal because the pubic can’t figure out how to safely drive around big-rigs?

  • avatar

    Buses are equally behind the times. The only North American intercity bus I know of with a full safety suite is the Temsa TS45, which comes with ABS, ATC, ESC, RSC, engine fire suppression system, lane departure warning system, tire pressure monitoring system, brake pad monitoring system and 3 point safety belts…and, thanks to its Turkish maker’s limited reach, near-zero chance of ever appearing at your local tourism depot or Greyhound station.

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