NHTSA aims to reduce rollover crashes involving trucks and buses

Across Texas, rollover crashes present a major safety concern for drivers. Even though just three percent of crashes involve rollovers, this type of accident comprises about 33 percent of fatalities involving passenger vehicle occupants, according to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. To minimize the risk of this type of accident from occurring, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has implemented new regulations that will help reduce the risk of rollovers in commercial truck accidents, which greatly contribute to the overall rollover problem.

About the new regulations

The regulations require certain trucks and buses to start using electronic stability control technology (ESC) by 2019. Specifically, the regulations would require ESC in all buses and large trucks weighing over 26,000 pounds. ESC senses when a vehicle is losing traction and control and automatically applies the brakes to individual wheels in order to assist the driver in regaining vehicular control. Although by law, all passenger vehicles must have been equipped with ESC starting in 2012, it has not been required in commercial vehicles before now.

According to the NHTSA, the use of ESC in heavy trucks and buses will offer many safety benefits:

• The number of rollover crashes in the U.S. each year is expected to decline by about 1,700 accidents.

• Because of the reduction in large truck and bus accidents, the NHTSA estimates that ECH will prevent about 649 injures and save 49 lives each year.

• The use of ECH technology is estimated to prevent over half of rollover crashes not caused by a collision.

According to the NHTSA, only one-third of tractor-trailers and 20 percent of buses would have ECH technology by 2018, if this rule were not implemented.

When will the changes take effect?

The changes required by the new regulations do not take effect immediately. Instead, they will be phased in. Beginning in August 2017, the regulations will require that all new three-axle tractor-trailers to have ECH. The other heavy trucks and buses on the road will not be required to install ECH technology until between 2017 and 2019, depending on their weights. As a result, the safety benefits of this new technology will not be apparent for several more years.

If injured, get help

Although many things cause rollover accidents, a significant number involving commercial trucks or buses are caused by negligence. In some cases the accident may have been caused by speeding, driver fatigue, texting while driving, or other forms of driver negligence. In others, negligence on the part of the trucking company, such as lapses in truck maintenance, negligent hiring or improper loading, contributed to the rollover accident.

In either case, if you or a loved one is injured or killed in an accident caused by a commercial truck or bus, the presence of negligence may not be immediately obvious. As a result, it is important to contact an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can work with accident experts to ensure that the cause of the accident is thoroughly investigated. Once the truth has been uncovered, an attorney can advise you of your legal rights and work to obtain fair and adequate compensation for your losses stemming from the accident.