ESP "could save 400 lives a year"
22 August 2006

Ever get annoyed by that flashing orange light on the dashboard when you take a corner with a little more brio than usual? Don’t be - Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, reckons that more than 400 lives could be saved and 3000 serious injuries prevented in the UK every year if stability systems were fitted as standard to new cars.

Stability control systems - known variously as ESP, VSC, DSC or TCS - cost as little as £50 to manufacture, but less than 40 per cent of cars on sale in the UK come with it as standard. Where available as an option, ESP costs between £250 and £1000.

In Germany around 60 per cent of new vehicles come with ESP as standard, while in Sweden the figure is 90 per cent.

Stability control systems operate far more quickly than even the very best driver, using sensors (generally part of the anti-lock braking system) to tell when a car is out of control, then individually braking each wheel until stability is restored.

“Pressure must be brought to bear to make stability control as commonplace as anti-lock brakes or airbags. It doesn’t just help during a crash like an airbag - it helps prevent the accident happening in the first place,” said Thatcham’s Matthew Avery.

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Thatcham’s call for standard stability control echoes our own – last year Autocar revealed how the standard fitment of ESP could save 20,000 lives across Europe by 2010. To check whether or not your car has stability control, visit www.thatcham.org.

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