Potentially life-saving anti-skid technology will become mandatory on all new passenger cars from November 2011 as part of an EU plan to improve road safety.
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ESC (electronic stability control), which kicks in when drivers begin to lose control of their cars, is thought to be able to prevent up to 80% of all skid-related accidents. But only 53% of the new cars sold in Europe are currently fitted with it, and carmakers often charge extra for ESC as an optional safety feature.
Which? has long believed that all new cars sold in the UK should come fitted with ESC as standard because it is proven to help drivers in critical situations and could help to save hundreds of lives on UK roads.
Improving road safety
The European Parliament’s decision to make ESC mandatory, which has still to be finally approved by the Council of Ministers, is the latest in a package of measures to improve road safety and reduce fuel consumption.
From November 2015, predictive emergency brakes and lane-departure warning systems will be obligatory for all newly-registered minivans and buses with more than eight seats, as well as commercial vehicles with a gross weight of more than 3.5 tonnes. Completely new models will be expected to hit the targets by 2013.
and tyre pressure monitoring systems will start to become compulsory from November 2012.
Which? motoring editor Richard Headland said: ‘This is great news for car buyers – you may hope you never have to call on your car’s ESC system, but if you do, you’ll be very glad it’s there.
‘Too many carmakers have offered ESC as an optional extra up until now, but safety should never be “optional” – that’s why Which? has been calling for standard ESC for the last three years.
‘If you’re buying a car now, we strongly suggest looking for one with ESC. We think it’s the most significant advance in car safety since airbags.’
Stability control has been included in the new Euro NCAP crash safety tests since February, and from 2010, cars will only be able to obtain a maximum five-star rating if they are equipped with ESC as standard. To see which cars performed best in the latest round of tests, check out our Euro NCAP guide.
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