Heavy Vehicle Electronic Stability Control (ESC)
Approximately two-thirds of all heavy truck occupant fatalities occur in rollover crashes. Heavy vehicle loss-of-control and rollover crashes are also a major cause of traffic tie-ups, resulting in millions of dollars of lost productivity and excess energy consumption each year. Stability-enhancing technologies have been developed that can sense when a loss of control or rollover is imminent and take corrective action without any input from the driver. This technology is needed because by the time a driver senses that the vehicle is beginning to lose control it is usually too late for him or her to do anything about it.

Research in this area involves evaluating the effectiveness of ESC (including roll and yaw stability control technologies) to prevent rollover and jackknife crashes involving heavy vehicles. It is necessary to understand the performance and limitations of these systems to help estimate potential safety benefits, and ultimately define test maneuvers to be used in objective test requirements.

Additionally, the agency is studying driver behavior using ESC to assess heavy vehicle ESC performance in the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS) at the University of Iowa. The ability of professional truck drivers to handle crash-imminent situations will be examined in the simulator to provide data that demonstrates the effectiveness of electronic stability control on heavy trucks.