The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), an agency of the US Department of Transportation (USDOT), has proposed a new safety rule to mount electronic stability control (ESC) systems on heavy vehicles to prevent rollover crashes.

The agency proposed the new safety standard, following the publication of research that predicts ESC technology can annually prevent 56% of rollover crashes of large commercial trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses, as well as 14% of loss-of-control crashes.

USDOT Transportation secretary Ray LaHood said the department and the NHTSA have long recognised the potential impact of stability control technology in reducing deaths and serious injuries that result from rollover crashes.

"Today’s proposal is a major step forward to improving the safety of large commercial trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses," LaHood added.

The sensors of ESC systems, with automatic computer-controlled braking applications, help drivers avoid dangerous conditions like over or under-steering and reduce the intensity of losing control.

NHTSA administrator David Strickland said that the agency has already seen how effective stability control can be at reducing rollovers in passenger vehicles; the ability for this type of technology to save lives is one reason it is required on cars and light-duty trucks.

"Now, we’re expanding our efforts to require stability enhancing technology on the many large trucks, motorcoaches and other large buses on our roadways," Strickland said.

NHTSA is estimating that ESC would prevent up to 2,329 crashes, eliminate an estimated 649 to 858 injuries and prevent between 49 and 60 fatalities a year.

The proposed rule is expected to become effective between two and four years after it is finalised.