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Safer vehicle fleet with mandatory ESC

Hon Michael Woodhouse
Associate Minister of Transport

26 February 2014

Safer vehicle fleet with mandatory ESC

Electronic stability control (ESC) is to become mandatory for new and used vehicles imported into New Zealand, with a proposed timetable announced today by Associate Transport Minister Michael Woodhouse.

“ESC has been described by the New Zealand Automobile Association and many road safety experts as the most significant advance in vehicle safety since the seatbelt,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“Mandating this technology will significantly improve road safety in New Zealand. Research indicates ESC can reduce the risk of crashing as a result of lost control by around 30 per cent.”

ESC is a crash prevention system that intervenes if its sensors detect a vehicle start to skid or lose traction. It is able to independently control the braking of each wheel, and the torque provided by the engine, to correct the car and pull it back into line if it is skidding out of control.

“Of course there are limits to what it can achieve, but overall ESC is extremely effective in allowing a driver to regain control of a vehicle in an emergency. Put simply, this is a technology that will save lives and help continue the downward trend in the number of New Zealanders injured on our roads.”

“As the vast majority of new cars now have ESC as standard, I am proposing to mandate ESC for all new vehicles from 1 July 2015,” Mr Woodhouse says.

“To ensure maximum safety benefits from the new technology, without choking supply from the mostly Japanese used car market, I propose a phased implementation for imported used vehicles from 2016.”

Under the proposed timetable, ESC will be required for newly registered New Zealand vehicles as follows:
all new light passenger and goods vehicles from 1 July 2015
used class MC vehicles (four-wheel-drive SUVs and off-road vehicles) from 1 January 2016
used class MA vehicles (passenger cars) with engine capacity greater than 2 litres from 1 January 2018
all other used light passenger and goods vehicles from 1 January 2020

“SUVs have a greater roll over risk than other vehicles due to their high centre of gravity, and receive the biggest safety gains from ESC. ESC offers a potential 60 per cent reduction in crashes caused from losing control, and so will be the first used car category for mandating ESC.

“The increase in ESC fitment over the next two decades is expected to prevent 432 deaths and 1992 serious injuries, including 22 deaths and 102 serious injuries prevented as a direct result of the proposal to mandate.”

Mr Woodhouse says the requirement for ESC will not apply to the importation of some specialist vehicles, such vintage cars. Current vehicle owners can also be reassured that they will not have to do anything.

“Improving the safety of New Zealand’s vehicle fleet is a priority in the government’s road safety strategy, Safer Journeys. It works hand-in-hand with other government initiatives to make our roads safer for all road users.

“I have been grateful for the input into the proposals from both the used and new motor vehicle industries, and I look forward to further feedback when public consultation opens on the draft Rule in early March.”

For more information: www.transport.govt.nz/ourwork/land/electronic-stability-control/

ENDS

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