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Focus on truck-crash avoidance in would-be NHTSA rule

Semi-trucks pose some of the greatest rollover risks because of their height, size and relatively poor handling compared to smaller vehicles. If a proposed government regulation is passed, though, these and other large trucks will soon reap the benefits of a computer-controlled braking system that automatically identifies a potential rollover risk and manages each individual wheel to minimize the risk of such a truck accident.

Ohio drivers may see far fewer semi tractor trailer wrecks on the roadways after the technology is implemented. Government research evaluating the efficacy of the technology determined that rollover accident rates among long-haul rigs could be decreased by 56 percent, while accidents resulting from a loss of control could be cut down by 14 percent thanks to the technology.

Although cars, SUVs and smaller trucks have already had access to this technology -- and starting with this model year, the technology will be required in all such vehicles -- it has not yet been approved and required for larger vehicles. The technology reduces the risk of a truck crash through electronic stability control, which senses when a driver might lose control. In such a case, the technology assumes control of the vehicle and applies braking automatically in a way that maximizes vehicle stability.

Rollovers and loss-of-control incidents due to slippery roadways or a driver swerving to avoid on-road obstacles can also be better controlled and prevented.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that the technology will prevent as many as 860 injuries and 60 fatalities resulting from truck and bus accidents.

Source: Claims Journal, "Government proposal aimed at bus, truck rollovers," Joan Lowy, May 18, 2012

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