Safety laws for vans and utes un­der dis­cus­sion

NT News - Motoring - - CARS GUIDE - By JAMES STAN­FORD

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

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