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Study Calls for Electronic Stability Control Devices on New Cars in the US


A study released in the United States this week says putting electronic stability controls on new motor vehicles would significantly reduce fatalities.

Emily Bowness survived after her car was hit and rolled over 12 times. "I could feel the momentum of the car and I knew I was going to flip," she said.

Now, a study says that an electronic stability control system (E.S.C.) might have prevented the vehicle from flipping. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety conducted several tests of vehicles equipped with E.S.C. systems. When sensors detect a driver has lost control, the E.S.C. computer takes over.

Rich Golito works for Bosch E.S.C. Systems. "Things happen quickly and people tend to overcorrect, and when you overcorrect it is very easy to have the vehicle go out of control," he said. "The vehicle is taking over, stabilizing the vehicle. The driver really is only steering the vehicle where he wants it to go."

Stability controls could prevent two out of every five deadly accidents, according to Sue Ferguson of the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety. "I see Electronic Stability Control [as] second only to seat belts in its life saving potential. We estimate that about 10,000 fatal crashes could be prevented each year if all vehicles had E.S.C.," she said.

The study says fatal multiple vehicle crashes could be reduced more than 30 percent, and 77 percent of car rollovers prevented. E.S.C. technology is standard equipment on most sport utility vehicles but not on most new cars. Industry analysts say they expect U.S. government regulations will require it on all new vehicles by the end of 2006.

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