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The NHTSA revealed the final rules on the mandatory installation of electronic stability control (ESC) to help prevent rollovers on all vehicles by the 2012 model year (September 2011). The legislation applies to all vehicles under 10,000 pounds, and was ushered in without dissent by automakers. Carmakers that produce less than 5,000 cars per year will be given more time to phase in the technology.

With their increased propensity to roll over, 90% of SUVs already feature ESC, but only 40% of 2007 model cars do. Given the disproportionate fatality rate for rollovers only 2% of auto accidents result in rollovers, but rollovers account for 40% of fatalities having all cars equipped with ESC is estimated to reduce rollovers up to 84%, save up to 10,300 lives, and prevent up to 238,000 serious injuries per year. When it comes to single vehicle crashes, SUV rollovers could drop by 59%, with passenger cars dropping 34%.

The threshold test will be conducted at 50 mph, using a steering robot to swerve the vehicle in a predetermined pattern while the vehicle is moving at 50 mph. According to the NHTSA, the test is severe enough to cause most vehicles to spin out without ESC. Mandated equipment includes an indicator light to warn drivers about problems with the ESC.

Since ESC employs computer-controlled selective braking, all cars must also be equipped with ABS, which is a direction automakers were headed in anyway. The cost to automakers will be in the area of $985 million, but the cost-per-vehicle will only be $111, a small premium for a life saved. The cost of property damage is also expected to drop by up to $450 million per year.

One glaring weak spot is the roof. While the NHTSA has been reviewing roof strength since the '90s, proposals have been opposed by safety advocates as too weak and manufacturers as too strong.

Exceptions to always-on ESC could off-road vehicles, use on track days, driving in deep snow, and mismatched tire sizes (e.g., using a spacesaver spare). Ford and GM have indicated they expect to beat the mandatory deadline by a year.

[Source: Detroit News]

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    • 1 Second Ago
      • 8 Years Ago
      this will surely help all the drunks get home safely?
      it will also help those putting their make-up on in the mornings along with those reading, yapping on the phone and doing whatever instead of driving the car. just more big brother.
      • 8 Years Ago
      I don't want ABS in my cars. I don't want anything that removes my control from the vehicle.

      Perhaps we're saving too many lives. Evolution used to reward the smartest and brightest. If we're not careful, it's going to reward idiots, too.
      • 8 Years Ago
      If you're still driving your 1971 Nova, how does this have any impact at all on you? Except by making the vehicles around you less likely to kill you? Clearly you're not going to buy a new car anyway, so the car companies don't give a damn what you think. And they're not alone...

      "We don't need to save everyone. We need to thin the herd a bit." Maybe, but bad drivers are out there trying to kill US, not just themselves.
      • 8 Years Ago
      At the end of the story, it comes down to preference. ;)

      I think what bugs me about all of this is that I see cars moving closer and closer to driving themselves and that is something I honestly fear. Not because of safety reasons, but because it feels like it's impeaching on one of the few things I truly enjoy.

      Call me stuck in the past if you want, it doesn't matter to me either way.
      • 8 Years Ago
      From what i've read and understand ESC just helps keep a car from skidding side-to-side and fishtailing which can lead to a rollover but it wont do anything to stop it from rolling over. Now from what i've read with Ford's system, AdvanceTrac w/Roll Stability control (found on ford,lincoln,mercury,volvo and the other ford family vehicles and available to other companies and automakers through licenses), AdvanceTrac w/RSC can keep you from skidding and it can also detect and respond directly to an impending roll. What i get from it is that esp alone will only help keep a car from a rollover if a car try's to skid first (such as on a curve) but it wont help if the car goes straight toward the rollover (think suv coming up to a right hand turn to fast..it wont skid but just go into a rollover)
      • 8 Years Ago
      I love how any talk about ABS, traction control, ESC brings the ignorant and the foolish out of the woodworks to comment about they don't "need" those systems. As was eloquently stated in an earlier post here, those systems are all *transparent* until you actually bite off more than you can chew. If you think you are an F1 ace, alright, drive like one until you lose control and ESC saves your life, unless of course you think your life is not worth saving.

      While it is true that stability control impedes at the limit performance, how often can you hit those limits on the streets anyways, without endangering other drivers and pedestrians? What if those other drivers and pedestrians were your family/loved ones? Still think ESC is a bad idea?
      • 8 Years Ago
      i guess i'll be buying a car before the 2012 model year when it comes time....
      • 8 Years Ago
      #7: What do you mean by no blind-spot mirrors? We already have them, they're on the side of your car.

      Just set them properly and say bye-bye to blind spots. Most people set them incorrectly and go figure, end up with blind spots.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Your 71 Nova "drives far better than any new car."
      Nearly sprayed coffee all over.

      I had no idea how enjoyable and safe it is to drive a 36 year old economy car.
      • 8 Years Ago
      It's extra bulk like this that continually leaves me looking to buying older cars.
      • 8 Years Ago
      ABS, ESP are fine little helpers, but they will never be able to make a car foolproove!
      An SUV has quite a high mass centre by nature. That causes a tendency ro roll anyway. As long as some people believe they can turn around an SUV like a Corvette, they will roll over...
      Regardless if ABS+ESP are fitted in that car or not. ESP may be able to stabilize the car before it starts to roll, but this is not guaranteed - it's just a attempt to rescue what the driver has already
      been messing up.
      • 8 Years Ago
      Could we get please get no-tech tiny cost solutions like:
      - rear fog lights
      - no blind spot side mirrors
      - amber turn signals
      I'm all for safety, but these 3 would help prevent accidents so you don't need ESC.

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