New rules to decrease risk of truck and bus rollover accidents

The NHTSA aims to reduce rollover accidents with new regulations.

Although rollover accidents are fairly rare, they are deadly when they occur. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, rollover accidents only account for three percent of all accidents nationwide, but cause 33 percent of the fatalities for passenger vehicle occupants. As a result, this type of accident is of concern to motorists on the roads. To address this concern, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has instituted new regulations that it believes will help reduce the risk of rollovers in bus and truck accidents.

Technology to reduce risk

Under the new regulations, trucks and buses must start using electronic stability control (ESC) technology by 2019. The new regulations will apply to large buses and trucks that weigh over 26,000 pounds. ESC works by sensing when the vehicle loses traction or control. When this occurs, ESC automatically applies the brakes to individual wheels to allow the driver to regain control of the vehicle.

If you have recently bought a car, you may already be familiar with this technology, as it has been required in new passenger vehicles since 2012. However, up until now, ESC was not required in larger commercial vehicles. According to the NHTSA, without this ESC requirement, only 33 percent of tractor-trailers and 20 percent of buses on the roads would have this technology.

By implementing ESC technology, the NHTSA estimates that it will bring many safety benefits. For one, it is expected to reduce the number of rollover accidents by 1,700 each year. Additionally, use of ESC is estimated to prevent over 50 percent of rollover accidents that are not caused by a collision. As a result of these benefits, the agency believes that the technology will reduce the number of rollover related injuries by 649 and save at least 49 lives each year.

Although the ESC requirement sounds promising in reducing rollover accidents, it will not become effective immediately. Instead, the regulations will become effective gradually between 2017 and 2019. Beginning in August 2017, all new three-axle tractor-trailers must have ESC technology. Other existing heavy trucks and buses will begin phasing in the technology at this time though 2019 as well at intervals depending on the weight of the vehicle. As a result of this phasing in, the maximum safety benefits will not materialize for several years from now.

If injured, call an attorney

Although it is true that some rollover accidents are caused by factors beyond the driver's control, a significant number occur because of driver or truck company negligence. In these cases, the rollover may have been caused by speeding, use of alcohol or drugs, poor truck maintenance, uneven or improper loading, or driver fatigue.

If you are injured in an accident involving a truck or bus, it is not always obvious whether negligence played a hand in it. As a result, it is wise to consult with an experienced personal injury attorney as soon as possible following the accident. An attorney can collaborate with accident experts and investigators to determine the factors that caused the accident and work on your behalf to recover the compensation for your medical bills, loss of wages, and other losses you are due by law.