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Stable: ENCAP boss says standard stability control would reduce crash rates.

Euro car safety guru says stability control should be standard in all cars sold here

11 Nov 2005

WORLD-LEADING safety expert Claes Tingvall has called for car-makers to standardise electronic stability control on all models sold in Australia.

The European NCAP chairman and director of traffic safety for the Swedish Road Administration, Professor Tingvall has told GoAuto he is concerned by the Australian public’s apparent lack of knowledge and understanding of the benefits associated with stability control systems.

He said a wholesale adoption of the potentially life-saving safety technology would reduce accident rates, road trauma and subsequent costs to society.

Stability control assists in maintaining the intended direction a vehicle is travelling during unintentional or sudden manoeuvres by braking all or some wheels and/or by reducing drive to the wheels so as to correct its course.

Professor Tingvall singled out Toyota Australia and Ford Australia for not offering the option of stability control on the new Yaris and Focus II, even though these models are fi tted with it standard in many countries in Europe.

"Safety is an added value to a vehicle," he said. "To compete by removing safety from cars (available elsewhere) does simply not make sense." He also rejected the claim that stability control would add significantly to the cost of a vehicle to consumers.

"The cost of development (of stability control) is where the real cost is, so it is strange that the importers do not offer it anyway since they have committed to it by already offering stability control in other models," he said.

8 center imageProfessor Tingvall (left) also urged car dealers and salespeople to "sell safety up" in order to help demand grow. To this end, insurance companies could also provide premium benefits to help egg-on stability control take-up.

He encouraged fleet buyers – particularly government departments and car rental firms – to consider the occupational health and safety advantages of having their vehicles fitted with such effective accident-avoidance and driving-aid measures.

He pointed to Sweden as an example where new-car buyers now overwhelmingly choose stability control after a concerted effort on the part of crash-safety research organisations, backed by the government, OH&S groups and the media, to educate the public.

"Uptake for stability control systems is extremely fast in Europe," he said.

"Nowadays fleet buyers would be criticised if they chose to omit stability control because of the OH&S issues they would be neglecting.

"In the late 1990s nobody knew what stability control could do. But by early 2003, once the real world research results were known and published, demand for it has gone through the roof.

"And this has been happening across Europe." Asked why governments do not tend to assist by legislating in favour of stability control takeup, Professor Tingvall said: "Regulations are too slow to catch up with the rapid pace of technology like stability controls. Sometimes it may take up to a decade for a decision to be made. So another kind of process is needed.

"It is a shared task to teach consumers about the benefits of stability control."

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