Government proposes requiring anti-rollover technology on new vehicles

Thursday, September 14th 2006, 8:55 am
By: News On 6

McLEAN, Va. (AP) _ New automobiles will be required to have anti-rollover technology, the government's traffic safety agency said Thursday.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said it would mandate electronic stability control on vehicles because of its potential in reducing thousands of highway deaths every year.

The requirement is expected to be phased in. Details of the proposal were to be announced later Thursday.

The crash avoidance technology senses when a driver may lose control and automatically applies brakes to individual wheels to help make the vehicle stable and avoid a rollover. About 40 percent of new vehicles already offer it as standard equipment.

Several automakers have implemented the technology on vehicles more prone to rollovers, including sport utility vehicles, vans and pickup trucks.

Ford Motor Co. said earlier this week that it would put stability control on its entire lineup by the end of 2009 and General Motors Corp. is planning to have the technology on all vehicles by 2010. Several automakers have made it standard equipment on SUVs.

Safety advocates have said the technology represents a crucial development in making cars, trucks and SUVs safer, drawing comparisons to the benefits of seat belts and air bags.

Nason said during a July hearing on Capitol Hill that it would save an estimated 10,600 lives when fully implemented into the nation's fleet of vehicles.

As part of the proposal, NHTSA officials outlined testing standards for the technology.

Rollover crashes are extremely dangerous _ they lead to more than 10,000 deaths a year even though they only account for about 3 percent of all crashes. More than 43,000 people are killed on the nation's roadways annually.

A study released this year by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety predicted 10,000 deaths could be avoided each year if passenger vehicles had the technology.

The study found stability control reduced the risk of single-vehicle rollovers involving SUVs by 80 percent, underscoring the benefits for the vehicles with high centers of gravity.