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Road Safety: European Parliament makes ESP mandatory in 2011

While the Middle East and Africa are still suffering from extremely high road death rates due mainly to bad road conditions and extremely old and unsafe cars , the European Parliament agreed on March 10, 2009 to make the life-saving Electronic Stability Program (ESP) mandatory for all new vehicles. According to the regulation, from November 2011 all new passenger-car and commercial-vehicles models registered in the European Union will have to be equipped with the ESP active safety system. From November 2014 this will then apply to all new vehicles.

The regulation has still to be finally adopted by the Council of Ministers. Accident research shows that skidding is the main cause of accidents with fatal results. “ESP can prevent up to 80 percent of all skid-related accidents,� says Dr. Werner Struth, president of the Chassis Systems Control division at Bosch, summarizing the results of international studies.

“After the seat belt, the system is therefore the most important safety technology in the car.� Bosch developed the electronic stability program, and in 1995 it was the first company in the world to put it into series production. According to a Bosch analysis, in the first six months of 2008, 53 percent of all new registrations in Europe were already equipped with ESP.

The mandatory installation of ESP is part of a comprehensive package of measures that the European Union intends to implement in order to increase road safety and reduce fuel consumption. In addition to ESP predictive emergency braking and lane departure warning systems will be mandatory for commercial vehicles with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tons and for minivans and buses with more than eight seats from November 2013 (new model) and November 2015 (new registrations).

Compulsory low rolling resistance tyres and tyre pressure monitoring systems will further reduce fuel consumption starting in November 2012. Additionally, more than 50 existing EU directives and more than 100 amendment regulations will be removed and replace by UN/ECE regulations wherever possible. The US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, NHTSA, already enacted a regulation in 2007, according to which all passenger cars with gross vehicle weight of 4.5 tons must be equipped with ESP from model year 2012.

In 2001, when the number of people killed on the roads in the EU stood at 50,000, the European Commission set itself the goal of halving the number of road deaths in the EU by 2010. In 2006, the number of road deaths in the EU was 39,500.

The ESP electronic stability program supports the driver in almost every critical driving situation. It includes the functions of the ABS antilock braking system and the TCS traction control system. It also detects and actively counters vehicle skidding movements. The Euro NCAP association (European New Car Assessment Programme), which tests and assesses vehicle safety using simulated accident situations, has included the active safety system in its new assessment procedure since February 2009. In accordance with the new guidelines, from 2010 vehicle models will then only be able to obtain the association’s maximum five star rating if they are equipped with ESP as standard.

It would be very important that such a law would also be implemented in Egypt and the Middle Eastern countries soon, especially since these countries suffer some of the highest death rates and road fatalities world-wide.

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