Best thing since airbags
Stability control is now law, writes NEIL McDONALD
SOME carmakers are expected to fast-track electronic stability control in their vehicles after the Federal Government this week made it mandatory from 2011.
From November 2011, all passenger cars and four-wheel drives will have to have stability control as standard. Other vehicles have until November 2013.
The Minister for Infrastructure, Transport, Regional Development and Local Government, Anthony Albanese, says the regulations bring Australia in line with international standards.
‘‘In fact, we are fully phasing in ESC one year ahead of Europe,’’ he says.
The devices are slowly becoming more widespread, but remain an option costing up to $1500 on many vehicles.
The Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries says Australian drivers want the technology. Almost seven out of 10 new vehicles are being fitted with the devices as standard, but many brands still ask customers to pay for them in optional ‘‘safety packs’’.
FCAI figures show 66 per cent of new passenger cars and off-roaders are fitted with stability control, a 12 per cent increase in the past year.
‘‘Manufacturers and motorists have moved quickly to embrace this life- saving technology,’’ FCAI chief executive Andrew McKellar says.
‘‘It is vital that there be nationally consistent regulations in place for ESC and harmonised as far as possible with international standards.’’
Safety agencies welcome the decision, saying the technology is the most practical safety advance since seatbelts became compulsory in the 1970s and airbags became widespread in the 1980s.
Monash University research shows stability control can reduce the incidence of single-vehicle accidents by 27 per cent in cars and 68 per cent in off-roaders.
Stability control uses sensors to compare differences between the car’s actual course and the driver’s steering wheel input. If the computer senses the driver is about to lose control, the system applies braking to individual wheels to bring the car back to its intended course.
Local carmakers Ford, Toyota and GM-Holden have welcomed the move.
‘‘Mainstreaming ESC technology in passenger cars and SUVs will save lives, it’s as simple as that,’’ GMHolden chairman and managing director Mark Reuss says.
tests show ESC will prevent many accidents.