Best thing since airbags

Sta­bil­ity con­trol is now law, writes NEIL McDON­ALD

Herald Sun - Motoring - - Front Page -

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.

Life­saver:

tests show ESC will pre­vent many ac­ci­dents.

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