Stability Control Standard By 2012

Escdiagram

The U.S. Department of Transportation and the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration announced last week a new regulation making electronic stability systems standard safety features by 2012.

Ford had already pledged to make stability control standard by 2009, and many companies already include it standard on their SUVs. Now the federal government is taking the final step to make stability control as routine as seat belts and airbags. NHTSA says stability control could save up to 9,600 lives a year, and almost 200,000 injuries. The rule would require all 2012-model-year vehicles be equipped with the system by September 2011. 

Today’s car shoppers should know that stability systems go by a number of names, depending on the manufacturer. Hopefully they’ll all adopt a standard naming convention, but until then check out the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety’s list of names of stability systems here. They’re standard on most SUVs and luxury cars, but it will take a few years before they’re available on all vehicles.

You can also search new cars with stability control using Cars.com’s vehicle recommender here.

[U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Mary E. Peters Announces A Substantial Life-Saving Technology For All New Passenger Vehicles, U.S. Department of Transportation]

By David Thomas | April 12, 2007 | Comments (22)
Tags: Safety

Comments 

Can you turn the stability control off???

usually, yes you can turn it off. In some cars you can't.

LM

Of course the gov't could mandate that the systems cannot be defeated. I mean, if it's for safety they have every right. Safety should not buckle so someone can have a thrill. I'm just stating their potential arguments.

You can't disable airbags when you want, and airbags do nothing to stop you from losing control and potentially killing someone in another car.

J

Okay, so we didn't know how to not locking the brakes, and we got ABS, next we can't even parallel park, so there is some automatic parallel parking systems, then we can't even drive with sane, there comes the stability control. What's next? Self driving vehicles with voice command? Shall we all ride in a subway/train/something that runs on tracks instead?

Spanky

I'm with ya J. We're definitly not strengthening the heard with all these dummy features. Instead of teaching those people to be better drivers, we're providing them with training wheels.

stability control provides something that driving ability can not. When you test it at the limits ESC is really an amazing feature.

It's called progress of evolution guys. I'm sure people argued then the first electric-key ignitions came out too, but I know I'd rather start my car by turning a key (or push-button which seems to be more and more popular these days) than hand cranking my engine.

If you want to race around without stability control, I suggest you start racing on a race track. If stability control could save over 9000 lives a year, or even just 1, it is worth it. I don't really see an argument to why it should _not_ be standard on every car.

M3

My argument against is cost and complexity. I'm tired of being required to buy more and more gadgets and safety features that I don't want. And I don't want to have to pay to fix it when it breaks, either. If they want to offer it as an option that people can choose to buy, fine. But don't make it mandatory. Wish they could do that with airbags.

I still don't understand why someone wouldn't want stability control. Can you explain it?

Many of the arguments against seem attributable to hubris - people think they're better drivers than they actually are, and they're enough of an expert that they don't need any sort of technological backup. I wonder if any of these "better drivers" are capable of applying braking force on only one wheel, which is a feature of both ESC and ABS.

Dan

Dave, I think it's a purists sort of stance. There's just a displeasure with the thought that a computer can take control of your vehicle from you if you're not doing what it deems right. Certainly in high performance applications, or if you just want to screw around, you may WANT to be sliding a bit. There's an objection to having the manufacturer or government telling you how to drive. It's more the principal that bothers people.

However, personally, I do support such a move. The reality is that the VAST majority of cars today are driven around the speed limit, back and forth on the same roads everyday. Many roads are crowded, and people are simply using their vehicle for transportation, that's it. And it's only becoming more so with time. Stability control can save alot of lives this way, not to mention reducing costs and cutting delays due to accidents. It's a wonderful technology for your everyday driver. But, if the sports cars/sports sedans of the world out there (which still, by and large are driven in the same way as all other cars) want a switch to turn the thing off, that's fine.

J

Dave,

Why we don't want it?
Looks like you might have a wrong idea.
I didn't say I don't want it, but I want to have a CHOICE.
Let's see, I'll use one of the econoboxes to show my point.
07 Civic, even the lowest grade DX has standard 6 airbags, ABS, EBD. Starts at about 15K.
97 Civic, DX sedan, 2 airbags, no ABS, no EBD, starts at around 12K.

The cost difference is not only at the purchase, but also when it fails to function which needs to be "serviced".

Stability control is good, but only if it is mandetory to offer as an option, not standard.
Driving with cars that has all these "safety features" standard will not make anyone a better driver at all.

J, you can't compare the price of two cars that were released a decade a part from each other. The reason the 2007 costs 15k is not because it's got more expensive features, it's because money is worth less now than it used to be. It's called inflation. Let me demonstrate:

In 2005, $12,000.00 from 1997 is worth:

$14,601.87 using the Consumer Price Index
$14,179.65 using the GDP deflator
$15,994.37 using the value of consumer bundle
$15,392.71 using the unskilled wage
$16,578.79 using the nominal GDP per capita
$17,999.06 using the relative share of GDP

Link: http://measuringworth.com/calculators/uscompare

And those are numbers for 2005 vs. 1997. Best case scenario (using GDP inflator) is you are right and cars with more gadgets are about 800 dollars more expensive now (or in 2005) than they were in 1997 with no gadgets. Worst case scenario (using relative share of GDP) today's cars with gadgets are actually _cheaper_ than cars from 1997 without any gadgets. By 2000 dollars...

Is it going to make anyone a better driver? No! Of course not. But it's going to help a poor driver (or a damned good one) if they get in to trouble and they can't get themselves out of a jam. Some things even champions can't do better than a computer.

Most things are already hooked up to the cars computer these days anyway. I doubt stability control is much more than just software to be installed. That doesn't add much cost to the overall price of a car.

Should it be mandatory? I don't know. I'd like the idea to be able to turn it off, but I also don't like the idea of a 16 year old hitting me head on because he turned off his stability control and skid around like a madman on public roads.

As an example of why I'm not sure technology will save us from bad drivers: Any time it snows around here, seems like an awful lot of 4x4's wind up in the ditch. My guess is the drivers assume their vehicles are immune to the laws of physics just because they have 4WD. I worry too many people will assume their ABS and stability control, etc. will save them no matter how badly they drive. Good driving skills should come first, THEN technology as an backup to help with unexpected situations.

George

Many german cars have the an ESP button. When you hit it you are not fully disabling it, you are just raising the threshold of intervention.
If you push and hold for ~5 seconds, then it is fully disabled.

The raised thresshold is fine for experienced drivers when they want to have 'fun'

LM

George,

But in America we have a lot of idiotic 'I dont want no nanny' people who will always disable it, and then think they can 'have fun' in the snow or on a sharp curve and slam into another car, killing an innocent family.

J

"Nameless":
You have said what I wanted to say.
The system cannot replace a good driver, moreover, it cannot make a bad driver a better one.

V

To all the naysayers: until you have a way to "teach everyone to be better drivers", AND you can prove that this will save more than 9,000 lives per year, you do not have an argument. This sounds very similar to the group of people who rant on and on about Lexus' parallel parking system while driving vehicles with power steering, brakes, windows, etc.

In an emergency handling situation, I've seen too many people who think they are "good drivers" lose control of their cars, and stability control could certainly help in those situations.

If there is any group who should be required to take driving lessons, it would be drivers of new vehicles in 2012 who have a switch to disable the stability control on their vehicles.

olle

while you are right about the inflation, j still has a point. even though they gadgeted up 2007s are actually cheaper than the stripped down 1997s due to improved manufacturing techniques, if there would have been a stripped down 2007 machine, it would have been the cheapest one out there.

that said, safety features that only affects your own safety could very well be optional but safety features which saves lives in other cars should be mandatory imho. i shouldnt have to die because someone else cheaped out or "wanted to do the driving himself". obviously, stability control falls in the
later category.

This just illustrates the great divide between "if it saves just one life" crowd and others. BTW, I actually did see that line in a comment above.

Sure, make it mandatory, if it saves just one life it's worth it! What if we can add $50,000 worth of technology to give the car constant accident avoidance, temperature-related tire pressure controls, ground radar to scan for ice ahead, GPS auto-routing to ease traffic density, etc etc. If it saves just one life, we must have it! Just keep piling on the weight, cost, and complexity. After all, everybody can afford a $15,000 car, or a $20,000 car. Or a $25,000 car. or a $70,000 car. Just keep piling it on. And when that car is 5+ years old and out of warranty, based on your arguments for the public good, I assume you want the the government to mandate that auto dealers service all these complex and expensive systems out of their own pocket, correct? After all, everybody who buys a used car has $2800 to replace an ABS module that goes belly up. You WILL require yearly certification to ensure that all these systems are still functioning, won't you?

Listen to you sheep- "I don't want to die because someone else doesn't have stability control on their car". Hey- neither do I. And I don't want to die because someone is too busy texting that they drove me off the road-this happened 3 weeks ago. And I don't want to die because some idiot has to drive an 8' tall SUV they drive 70 mph on black ice, that gets blown sideways in a sudden crosswind, and flips over when it hits dry pavement. And I don't want to die because it's possible for someone to get onto the freeway going the wrong direction.

Let's mandate automatic controls to fix all of these things. So what if it adds $20,000 to the cost of a car. If it saves just one life, it's worth it!

Let's mandate roll cages and helmets mandatory in all cars! It'll save at least one life a year! Won't it? Then how can you possibly argue against it?

What possible argument can you make against mandatory helmets, if it saves lives? That's certainly much cheaper than an ESC system on every automobile.

BTW my car has traction control and ABS, both of which have failed in the last 12 months (it's an 8 year old car) and I cannot afford to have them repaired. Will one of you people who doesn't want to die due to my lack of electronic intervention please send me a cheque for $2800 so I can get them going again. Thanks so much. In the meantime, I'll just continue to drive within my limits, based on a lifetime of driving experience, and not rely on some star-wars gee-whiz doodad to save my neck the next time I'm too stupid to slow down in treacherous conditions.

PS: I'm teaching my kid to drive at present and we are actually working on how to handle a car in snow and ice. Or, I guess I could just tell her to floor it because on her next car the ESC/ ABS will handle everything. Which approach will produce a better driver?

Dan

Guys, I've figured out the ultimate solution.

Bubble wrap.

We should take between $500-$1000 in bubble wrap and wrap both the occupants and vehicles. It will save approximately 4738.36 lives per minute.

George I really hope you read this post again, if only because you're quite possibly the dumbest person to post in here. The complexity of "German" ESC systems is so far beyond "hold the button for 5 seconds" I don't even know where to begin to refute that ridiculous claim.

God I'm happy I got my little pocket rocket before Honda decided to add ESC as a standard. Can't autocross or short-track race with ESC that you can't turn off!

Glim

Way to go! Glad all cars will have stability control.

This system is traction on slippery surfaces and not sliding sideways when limits have exceeded; hard to dislike something designed to prevent injury.

My favorite benefit of this system is in the winter; I love the brilliant snow traction, it 'walks' up icy snow covered hills.

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