September 15, 2006

U.S. Department of Transportation proposes standard electronic stability control

Washington, D.C. – The U.S. Department of Transportation has proposed a rule that, if passed, will require all vehicle manufacturers to begin equipping passenger vehicles under 10,000 lbs (4,535 kg) with electronic stability control (ESC), starting with the 2009 model year. The feature would have to be available as standard equipment on all vehicles by September 2011 for the 2012 model year.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) has announced that such a feature has the potential to save more than 10,000 lives each year in the U.S.

ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help the driver maintain control in situations where a vehicle without ESC would skid out of the driver’s control and likely leave the road. NHTSA says that nearly all rollover crashes occur after a vehicle leaves the road, and a 2004 study estimates that ESC reduced fatalities in single-vehicle crashes by 30 per cent for passenger cars and 63 per cent for SUVs.

According to the proposed regulation, the average cost is estimated to be US$111 per vehicle, on vehicles already equipped with anti-lock brakes. Since 2004, NHTSA has urged manufacturers to voluntarily add ESC as standard equipment on vehicles; almost 29 per cent of all 2006 vehicles, and 57 per cent of all SUVs, are already equipped with ESC. NHTSA is asking for comments on the ESC proposal for the next 60 days.

In a statement issued by General Motors yesterday, Bob Lange, Executive Director, Structure and Safety Integration, said that the company supports rulemaking on ESC, and will adjust its timing as needed to satisfy a final rule when issued. The company says that the technology is already on about half of its products.

Connect with