Considering how effective Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems have been in minimizing the numbers of rollover accidents occurring in the United States every year, it’s not so surprising that these systems have been able to do the same for tractor-trailer rigs. A new study conducted by researchers at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that if every commercial truck was equipped with an ESC system, we could prevent approximately 3,600 truck rollover accidents every year. We could save about 106 lives, and prevent more than 4,400 injuries every year.
However, the trucking industry has still not moved to make the systems mandatory on all 18 wheelers. This is in spite of the fact that these massive big rigs that can weigh up to 80,000 pounds, are at a major risk of flipping over. A truck rollover can occur when a tractor-trailer is traveling at high speeds, and the driver slams on the brakes suddenly. Rollovers can occur when a truck is traveling in slippery road conditions. Even what seems like a normal turn at an intersection can prove catastrophic if the weight of the cargo shifts, contributing to a rollover. The clear reason why: the trucking industry is more concerned with the costs associated with implementing safety devices than they are with making the roads safe for drivers.
A truck rollover is not just a disaster for the truck driver, but can have catastrophic consequences for any other vehicles nearby. Besides, there is a risk to public health and safety from any hazardous materials that may be spilt during a rollover. This is a serious issue when there is a tanker truck involved in a rollover accident. Typically, tanker trucks are more likely to flip over, because of the weight of the liquid cargo which can cause a shift in balance. When gasoline or fuel are spilled on a Highway, the risks of an explosion or a massive fire, are immense.
In spite of these risks, the trucking industry has been reluctant to wholeheartedly adopt electronic stability control technology in their fleets. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has also chosen to drag its feet on the matter, saying that it will wait for the results of a full-fledged study into the benefits of ESC systems in trucks, before making a decision on the matter. While they wait, one must wonder how many lives will be needlessly wasted in catastrophic trucking accidents which could have been easily avoided with the proper technology. This is not a rhetorical question and truck safety must be addressed in this country to stop needless accidents and even death.
As an Atlanta truck accident lawyer, I am a firm believer in using technology to enhance trucking and auto safety. As an experienced Atlanta Personal Injury attorney I am perplexed why it should take so long to use proven technology that we already have available, in order to keep thousands of truckers and motorists safe every year.