Courtesy Maverick Transportation
Starting in 2017, all new heavy trucks will be equipped with ESC.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has issued a final rule requiring electronic stability control on new heavy truck tractors, effective August 2017.

Portions of the new rule resulted from a safety study commissioned under the MAP-21 surface transportation bill of 2012. Shortly after President Obama signed the bill into law, NHTSA started requiring ESC for light cars.

“ESC is a remarkable safety success story,” says U.S. Transportation Secretary Anthony Foxx. “Requiring ESC on heavy trucks and large buses will bring that safety innovation to the largest vehicles on our highways, increasing safety for drivers and passengers of these vehicles and for all road users.”

Automotive experts have called ESC one of the most important safety innovations since the seat belt. Regulators expect the rule to save 49 lives, 649 injuries and 1,759 crashes each year while bringing $300 million annually in net economic benefits.

Many trucks already come standard with ESC, which senses uncontrolled accelerations and automatically applies ABS brakes as needed to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle. ESC helps pave the way for other safety technologies, such as forward-collision mitigation systems. Without the rule, NHTSA estimates that about 34% of new trucks would already be leaving the factory with ESC.

“We’ve long known the positive role technology can play in making our vehicles and our roads safer,” says Bill Graves, president and CEO of American Trucking Associations, which welcomes the new rule.