• Sep 11, 2006
This week lawmakers will be proposing that stability-control systems be federally mandated for all new vehicles sold in the U.S. USA Today reports that comments will be taken for 90 days on the proposal and if approved a final rule could be issued as early as next year with a phase-in period to allow automakers enough time to disseminate the technology across their entire line ups.
Currently stability control is available on about half of all new models sold, but in some instances can cost up to $900 as an option. Studies have shown, however, that stability control can save a lot of lives, somewhere in the order of 10,000 per year. According to the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, if the technology were made standard, then fatal single-vehicle crashes would fall by 56.

Since anti-lock brakes are an integral component in stability-control systems, the new rule would also make that technology standard across the board for the first time. Though it has never been federally mandated as standard equipment, ABS is now standard on 80% of all new vehicles sold.

[Source: USA Today]


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  • 38 Comments
      • 8 Years Ago
      I favor cars that don't go over 20 mph in the city and 45 mph on the highway. All electronically GPSified with blackbox and real-time tracking.

      Also, the car should reach 60 MPH in infinite time (since 45 MPH is the top most useful speed). But 45 mph should be reached in 1 minute at the fastest.

      Just about 24 HP would be necessary. This would also be good for mileage.

      This would be alot safer than dumb stability control.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Excellent idea, at least for the 80% of cars that have antilock breaks anyway. Although it seems resonable to make an exception for cars without ABS, at the low end.
      • 8 Years Ago
      There is no doubt that stability control, like ABS, can save even a skilled driver from a situation he/she can't control (braking wheels individually, for example).

      What concerns me is that the more confidence people have the faster they drive, and they may not realize that there's a computer and 275 sensors working to keep them on the road.

      All I'm asking is that people understand the basic dynamics (if I hit the gas now I could understeer and hit that kind gentlemen in the tiny car across the intersection), and realize when technology saved their hide. THEN we have made safe drivers safer, and not made the same drivers bolder. "Why should I slow down when it's snowing? I just drive like I always do and the car does it for me! Great!"
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think stability control is fine for most cars, but it will cause problems for some. What about small-volume car makers, or startup companies, like Tesla, Commuter Cars, Wrightspeed, AC Propulsion, etc? This is just increasing the barriers to entry even higher than they already were. What about microcars? The Tango from Commuter Cars has to be sold as a kit already because they can't afford to crash-test a bunch of them, and put on bumpers, airbags, etc. Never mind that it's the size of a motorcycle and already far safer. Why is it acceptable for a motorcycle rider to take these risks on the highway, while a much safer micro-car can't be sold until it has all these additional gewgaws tacked on, at great expense?
      • 8 Years Ago
      Man, you guys are ridiculous.
      • 8 Years Ago
      New rule: Ordinary lawmakers (you know us the real lawmakers) kicked the stupid bastards out during the next two elections.

      "Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just Powers from the Consent of the Governed, that whenever any form of Government becomes destructive of these Ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government" (that's what every 2 and 4 years is about)

      Like I said, kick the bastards out, don't know about you, but I'm tired of being told what I can or can't buy equipped the way I would like.

      • 8 Years Ago
      Why not legislate better driver's education and stricter licensing laws? Germany has drivers that drive at a higher rate of speed without stability control and they have less accidents.
      • 8 Years Ago
      basically the concept is that this will help prevent single vehicle accidents due to skidding, bad weather, inproper driver response etc.
      After taking on numerous courses that showed how stability control really works in extreme driving there's no way I would say choose a car without stability control if you have the option. it is that great a technology. It is not a nanny. If you want to take your sports car to the track or burn out at the light guess what? you hit the button and turn the traction control off.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I think that stability control is an excellent tool. There are many studies that have been done that prove that when installed, especially in SUVs, it will keep people from killing themselves. This is great.

      That said, I don't want the government to mandate that I have to have this in my car any more than I want the government to mandate that I have to drive a grey car. I think the onus is on the manufacturers to provide this as an option on nearly every type of car. And to provide it at a price that is not prohibitory.

      Let's say: Johnny Twenty-Year Old is in the market for a car. He's got something like 15K to spend. He can buy a stripped Cobalt, brand new, with the most advanced technology. It costs $13,955 (or whatever, I didn't look up the price, but you understand the argument) without ESP. ESP is (or will be) an option from GM for $800. Johnny wants a kick-ass stereo. He doesn't get the ESP. Now, the egg-heads in DC decide that GM must give Johnny 20 ESP. GM makes the base price now $14,800. What's Johnny do? He buys used. More pollution, more overall risk because he doesn't have the best available equipment. But he's got a great f-ing stereo now.

      The point is, most accidents that would be prevented by ESP are one-car affairs. The driver made the choice not to have nannies in his car and paid the price. His family or other passengers also pay this price. But the thing is that most multi-car mix ups are not caused the by lack of or prevented by the presence of ESP.

      The last problem with this: Those assholes who are probably going to crash into you when it's snowing out and they're cruising at 55mph without ESP. Hell, they've got ESP now, they can obviously do 75mph. I really don't think you can discount the idiocy of people who rely on technology.
      • 8 Years Ago
      #21 Just gives me more motivation to finish my Datsun 510 project...

      Amen and a fine car they were/are along with the original 240Z the best products Datsun/Nissan ever produced.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I cannot beleive the ignorance in this particular blog- Stability programing is not ever a liability in inclement conditions. Most every system out there, particularly on driver-oriented vehicles, can be de-activated. Most will however remain in a standby mode, looking for a panic response to re-activate. You shoud NEVER disable an ABS system on your vehicle, as the ABS may have crucial brake force distribution functions integrated. Without these, brake front/rear bias will be completely screwed, and the vehicle will be unsafe to operate by any standard.
      Now if we talk about consumer choice- I would gladly trade my passenger airbag (seat un-occupied 98% of the time) for a credit equal to the cost of ESP.
      • 8 Years Ago
      David,

      You are correct to a point, but I have the choice of not buying that particular car. Also if you go back some, you'll find that many of the car makers "choices" for us as you put it have been brought about by govenment "mandates"

      Careful use of the option sheets used to get you just the vehicle you wanted and there wer plenty of delete options as well.

      Sure you can drive well with or without Antilock brakes, but the increase stopping length if activated and there are other limitations, and you living in the midwest should know that. Lets say you have rear wheel drive and the rear has little traction, you can apply just a hint of brake and get moving, with antilock, that's not going to happen, the ABS ligt triggers.

      As to not much cost, what planet have you been on? It all adds costs to the product, costs that you and I bear, because some hack politicians "mandate" something. Look at the cars we don't get here because they might not pass the mandated safety tests.

      While I agree that you can have all the toys and still be a skilled driver, it should be each persons choice, not a politician who makes that choice.

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