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NHTSA: Stability systems on trucks, buses can prevent rollovers

Any kind of rollover crash on our North Carolina roads could result in catastrophic injuries, especially if a commercial truck or bus is involved. When truck accidents occur, motorists could become trapped in their passenger vehicles after being pinned by a hefty truck and those individuals could suffer serious or fatal injuries.

However, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration recently proposed that all commercial vehicles, including buses, be equipped with a new safety system that could help prevent serious or fatal rollover accidents on our country's roads. If the proposal passes, manufacturers would be required to install new computerized braking/stability control systems on all new vehicles.

The electronic stability control system is designed to sense when a driver is at risk of losing control of the vehicle. It will apply the brakes to individual wheels as needed to keep the bus or truck stable, hopefully avoiding a rollover. The new system also helps to provide stability if it senses the vehicle slipping on ice or slick roads. If a driver suddenly swerves on the road to avoid hitting something, the system will sense this action and help prevent the driver from losing control of the vehicle.

In the U.S., new passenger vehicles, light trucks and SUVs must come equipped with stability control systems. Although this requirement is new, the safety systems have been in use in SUVs and other vehicles for many years. Already transportation and safety officials are seeing a decrease in the number of rollover accidents involving passenger vehicles.

Research suggests that this safety technology could prevent 14 percent of loss-of-control accidents and up to 56 percent of rollover crashes every year. The NHTSA stated it estimates that more than 2,300 accidents could be prevented each year if trucks and buses are equipped with this technology. Based on this estimate, as many as 858 injuries and 60 fatalities could be prevented each year.

Source: Associated Press, "Gov't proposal aimed at bus, truck rollovers," Joan Lowy, May 16, 2012

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