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Regulators propose new stability controls to prevent truck crashes

The high volume of truck traffic in New Jersey means that drivers here are often well aware of the dangers of colliding with a truck. Truck accidents can cause much more serious injuries than a crash with another car because of the size and weight of the vehicle.

As a result, safety regulators and the trucking industry continue to look for ways to make trucks safer and less likely to be involved in an accident. Safety measures take many forms, ranging from weight limits to restrictions on how many hours a driver may be behind the wheel in a given day.

A recent proposal by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration would add new electronic stabilizers to the list of regulations, in hopes of reducing the number of accidents that result from a driver losing control of the vehicle. The system works by detecting when a driver might lose control and automatically triggering the breaks. This would keep the truck stable and avoid the chain reaction that causes rollover accidents.

The NHTSA estimates that this safety mechanism could prevent up to 56 percent of rollover accidents every year. Rollovers accidents have the highest fatality rate of any type of truck accident. This would translate to preventing over 2,000 accidents every year. Those accidents are responsible from somewhere between 650 and 850 injuries and 40 to 60 deaths each year.

The breaking system would also be required in motorcoaches. Consumer reports called the technology “the single most important advance in auto safety since the development of the seatbelt.”

Source: Associated Press, “Gov’t proposal aimed at bus, truck rollovers,” Joan Lowy, May 16, 2012.

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