• Aug 5th 2010 at 2:31PM
  • 41
Automakers are legally required to install stability control to all new cars and trucks for sale to the public, but as of yet, there is no such law for commercial tractor trailer trucks. That may soon change, however, as the Associated Press is reporting that The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is studying whether to mandate the safety system for all big rigs. Stability control systems utilize an array of sensors to detect imbalance and possible rollover. If a risk is detected, the system applies the brakes to an individual wheel (or wheels) until balance is restored. NHTSA crash avoidance director Nathaniel Beuse claims that mandating standard stability control systems on all semi trucks could prevent 3,500 rollover accidents, 4,400 injuries and 106 deaths each year.

Those are awfully powerful numbers that appear to justify the estimated $1,200 cost to retrofit existing trucks and the $1,000 it is said to take to install such hardware on a new rig, but it would also appear to make more sense with some trucks than others. Tanker trucks, which the AP says account for six percent of all big rigs on the road, account for 31 percent of all rollover accidents. And since tanker trucks often carry hazardous, potentially explosive materials like propane or gasoline, adding stability control systems could greatly mitigate the loss of life and property. One trucking company that has already installed the systems in its trucks, Trimac Transportation Systems, tells the AP that rollover accidents dropped from an average of 11 per year to only one last year. While that's just one company's results, it does suggest that even with the heightened cost incurred to purchase stability control systems, that the money can be recouped in lower insurance claims and perhaps even lower premiums.

NHTSA is conducting a two-day hearing to study whether or not enough is being done to prevent tanker trucks from running over. If in fact NHTSA determines that more needs to be done to prevent these potential rollovers, we're thinking that legally compulsory stability control, at least for tankers, could be right around the corner.

[Source: Associated Press | Image: David McNew/Getty]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      • 5 Years Ago
      Even though he has nothing to do (really) with this proposed legislation, here's a little paradoy of Styx's Renegade song:

      Obama I'm in fear for my life
      From the Semis on the road
      Tankers are slidin' out of control here
      And I'm still far from my home

      Obama can you hear me a-cryin'
      I'm so scared drivin' alone
      Mack truck has crossed the yellow divider
      And I don't have very long
      • 5 Years Ago
      So, a vehicle with air brakes is supposed to have a computer apply brakes to different wheels to regain control, thus draining the air tank. Sure hope that doesn't happen on a hill, the driver will still be really screwed.
        • 5 Years Ago
        If the air tanks run low, the emergency brakes will kick in and cause the rear wheels to lock up. That's not a good thing.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Why does it make a difference? If there isn't any air in the "tank" then the brakes just apply themselves.
      • 5 Years Ago
      nice try but that system would cost hell of a lot more then the 1K number that is being thrown around...How many wheels does a big rig have? add the total in sensors and installation...not to mention the reprogramming into the OEM ecu...I think the system should be installed into big rigs as well but don't try to rally the troops and make the truckers look like they are being cheap...
      • 5 Years Ago
      How the F is this not mandatory already?!?!

      A measly $1000 bucks on a rig that can easily cost over $100k and it's not already being done?? WTF not?

      But I am sure the rightwing nutjobs will be all up in arms over MORE government regulations interfering with their freedom to get their asses squashed by a jackknifed semi.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Hadaz, why do have to make everything political? No matter how many times you comment here about "evil" free marketers, tea party activists, capitalists, or whatever, November is coming and can't be avoided. Safety advances are good for business: if the system is proven to work, it will save money. The cost of cleanup for an accident, which the trucking company is liable for, is incentive to put these systems in. Conservatives are not anti-government regulation/spending, as long as long as it is within the bounds of the Constitution. This is one of them. Spending money on research to see if men abuse women more when their favorite football team loses a game is not (this was actually done, at a cost of hundreds of thousands of dollars).

        An important question: Is this going to be required for Mexican trucks if they are allowed to operate within our boarders?
      • 5 Years Ago
      BTW, lets see the statistics on accidents broken down into a more accurate format.................. as in accidents per 100,000 miles. This will rarely happen, as it shows just how safe truck drivers are (especially compared to non commercial drivers), and would not be nearly as sensational.

      Yes, my husband is a truck driver (he is a company driver, not an owner operator), and has well over 1.5 MILLION accident free miles.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Yes. Do it.
        • 5 Years Ago
        This makes an immense amount of sense. I don't think it's any different or worse than regulating the need for ESC in passenger cars. The benefits outweigh the cost.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If we have to have Stability control on our new cars then ABSOLUTELY it needs to be on the Big Rigs. I don't know how much the deductibles are for a roll over accident on a Big Rig, but it seems to me that the companies will save a lot of money in the long run.
      • 5 Years Ago
      I want to know why buses don't have mandatory safety belts...it's 2010 for fawks sake!

        • 5 Years Ago
        One reason is because safety belts wouldn't make much of a difference in a crash that would statistically be the most likely to happen involving a school bus. (ie usually under 50 mph, not head on, etc.)
        But the main reason (or so Im told is the main reason) is that the seats are designed to act like safety belts during a crash. Imagine eggs in a egg carton. Its pretty much the same concept. Also you have to remember that school buses have much more mass when moving than the cars on the road. A egg carton system protects passengers just as well as safety belts in most crashes with that kind of mass.

        Nevertheless, what happened in Missouri is absolutely horrible. It was a terrible freak accident. But you have to remember that it was a freak accident. Things like this dont happen every day. I dont know how much safety belts would have made a difference.
        Anyway, I hope such never happens again and I pray for the families affected by the accident. It really is horrible.
      • 5 Years Ago
      If I'm not mistaken ABS isn't even mandatory on big rigs, maybe they should start with that.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yup ABS appears to be one some trucks. I remember seeing this a while ago:

        • 5 Years Ago
        Trucks use air brakes...is ABS even possible with that system?
        • 5 Years Ago
        They should also mandate non-red turn signals.
        I am sick of trucks getting cheaper and using a few red LEDs and calling it a day.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, air-operated ABS is commercially available. www.meritorwabco.com
        • 5 Years Ago
        Yes, ABS is on some of the trucks/trailers. It does not work well, as it causes inconsistant braking force.

        When you drive for a living, your brakes are your lifes blood. When you can't count on your braking distance, they are useless.
      • 5 Years Ago
      Neat. Any chance of following that up with truck tires that don't litter roads with splitter-smashing, people-killing steel-belted shrapnel?
        • 5 Years Ago
        How about tire pressure & temperature monitoring systems?
      • 5 Years Ago
      I would like to see how the sensors compensate for a sloshing liquid load.

      However, I'm sure that noone will mind, as the cost of retrofitting existing trucks will just be passed on to the consumer. Along with the costs associated with CSA2010, and the miriad of new regulations and requirements that are constantly bombarding the trucking industry.

      Remember people........................... 95% of what you eat, drink, or fill your house with............. or even heat your house, is shipped on a truck.
        • 5 Years Ago
        I am curious if it will lead to redesign of current trailers which are not that stable to begin with relying on the tractor for the majority of their stability. It could be another set of wheels only in use while moving.

        • 5 Years Ago
        Don't worry, we taxpayers already subsidize almost everything the stuff that truck is carrying, as well as the road it's being carried on.
        • 5 Years Ago
        Maybe if our rail system wasn't so obscenely antiquated we wouldn't need to have so much Chinese-made stuff hauled on the back of a truck... but I guess that's why the trucking lobby has been against improving our rail system.
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