Safety laws for vans and utes under discussion
IT’S taken far too long, but the Federal Government has finally twigged that utes and vans carry people too.
Since late 2011, and even earlier in Victoria, all new ‘‘passenger cars’’ sold in Australia have been required to be fitted with Electronic Stability Control.
There is no such rule for ‘‘light commercial vehicles’’, including vans and utes, even the top-selling crew cabs.
Given that many crew cabs are used as second family cars, the legislation fell well short.
Even if they don’t carry families, light commercial vehicles need to be driven by someone and surely a person who drives a van or ute all day deserves the same level of safety as someone driving a passenger car.
At long last, the Government has announced it plans to change the Australian Design Rules to mandate ESC for light commerc- ials. It hasn’t set a date, but is calling for submissions before deciding the details of the policy including when it comes into play.
The Government usually gives manufacturers one or two years of notice, so they can start the development process for ESC systems, which begs the question: Why has the Government taken so long to act?
ESC, which reduces engine power and uses brakes to stop a vehicle from spinning or sliding out of con- trol, has long been considered a lifesaver among safety experts and has been around since the mid 1990s.
The European Union decided ESC needed to be made compulsory on cars and light commercials from last year and also requires it be fitted to heavy trucks.
The US is also working towards mandating ESC on heavy trucks by 2016.
No trucks, light or heavy, are required to have ESC in Australia and no date has been set for its introduction.
ESC legislation does not cover light commercial vans