All light vehicles to have ESC by 2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced yesterday that all light vehicles must be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) systems by model-year 2012

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) announced yesterday that all light vehicles must be equipped with electronic stability control (ESC) systems by model-year 2012.

The new safety standard, which was published in the Federal Register today, applies to new vehicles with a gross vehicle weight rating of 10,000 lb. or less, including trucks, buses, multipurpose passenger vehicles and automobiles.

A phase-in period begins Sept. 1, 2008 and all affected vehicles must be equipped with ESC by Sept. 1, 2011.

ESC systems use computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help the driver stay in control of the vehicle in situations where it begins to lose “directional stability,” such as over-correcting in an emergency situation or misjudging the severity of a curve, especially under wet or icy road conditions. .

Such systems are intended to prevent cars and trucks from suddenly veering off the road, thus reducing the number of injuries and deaths related to rollovers and collisions with other vehicles, trees, highway infrastructure, etc.

According to NHTSA estimates, mandatory installation of ESC systems could prevent 84% of SUV rollovers and 71% of passenger car rollovers in single-vehicle crash situations. In addition, NHTSA data indicates that 59% of SUV single-vehicle crashes and 34% of passenger car single-vehicle crashes could be prevented by ESC.

NHTSA estimated ESC will save between 5,300 and 9,600 lives annually and prevent between 168,000 and 238,000 injuries. ESC will add about $111 per vehicle on models with ABS brakes.

“This technology will save thousands of lives,” said Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters. “Like airbags and seat belts, ten years down the road we will look back at the new ESC technology and wonder how we ever drove a car without it.”

To read the final rule, go to the Federal Register website.

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