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Mandatory ESC a game changer for road safety

26 February 2014

Mandatory ESC a game changer for road safety

The AA welcomes a proposed new regulation that will see all new passenger vehicles and used imports require electronic stability control (ESC).

AA Principal Advisor Mark Stockdale says ESC is the single biggest improvement in vehicle safety since the introduction of the seatbelt more than 50 years ago.

“This is an important step for road safety,” Mr Stockdale says.

“The AA has been calling for ESC to be made mandatory on new cars and used imports for some time and the sooner it is introduced, the better.”

The government plans to phase in the ESC requirement over five years beginning with all new light passenger and goods vehicles from 1 July 2015.

Under the proposal, most used four-wheel-drive SUVs and off-road vehicles will be included from1 January 2016 followed by used passenger cars with a 2-litre engine or bigger on 1 January 2018. All other light passenger and goods vehicles will be included by 1 January 2020.

“The proposed phase-in approach over five years is sensible and will ensure that cars being imported to New Zealand will be the safest they can be while remaining affordable for Kiwi motorists,” Mr Stockdale says.

“This is a game changer for road safety. The benefits of ESC have been proven in the last decade since the technology became widely available, with international studies showing reductions in single vehicle loss-of-control crashes of around 30%, or 60% for SUVs which are more prone to rolling over due to their higher centre of gravity.

“It’s estimated that ESC alone could reduce the number of road fatalities by more than 430 during the next 20 years.”

Mr Stockdale says the AA supports the government’s safe system approach to road safety.

“This is all about building in safety margins so that when people make mistakes, tragic outcomes are avoided. New Zealand has made great progress in recent years enhancing the safety engineering of our roads and by improving driver behaviour with reductions in speeding and drink driving, but we’ve lagged behind other countries when it comes to vehicle safety.

“It is fantastic to now see a focus on improving vehicle safety with the preventative benefits of ESC.”

Mr Stockdale says while ESC is not yet mandatory, the AA recommends motorists choose ESC when looking to buy a new or used car.

“It could just be the difference that saves your life.”

The New Zealand Automobile Association is an incorporated society with more than one million members. It represents the interests of road users who collectively pay more than $2 billion in taxes each year through fuels excise, road user charges and GST.


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