The proposed rule would require all manufacturers to begin equipping passenger vehicles under 10,000 pounds with ESC starting with the 2009 model year and to have the feature available as standard equipment on all vehicles by the 2012 model year (September 2011).
ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help the driver maintain control in situations where a vehicle without ESC would skid out of control and likely leave the road. Nearly all rollover crashes occur after a vehicle leaves the road. A 2004 study by NHTSA estimated that ESC reduced fatalities in single-vehicle crashes by 30 percent for passenger cars and 63 percent for SUVs.
NHTSA Administrator Nicole Nason called electronic stability control for cars "the greatest life saving improvement since the safety belt."
The agency estimates that ESC will save between 5,300 and 10,300 lives annually and prevent between 168,000 and 252,000 injuries. ESC will prevent between 4,200 and 5,400 of the more than 10,000 deaths that occur each year as a result of rollover crashes.
The average cost of the proposed regulation is estimated to be $111 per vehicle on vehicles that already include ABS brakes.
Since 2004, NHTSA has urged manufacturers to voluntarily add ESC as standard equipment on vehicles. As a result, almost 29 percent of all 2006 models - 57 percent of SUVs - are already equipped with ESC.
NHTSA is asking for comments on the ESC proposal until mid-November. The proposed regulation and the accompanying regulatory analysis, along with lists of vehicles equipped with ESC, can be found at www.nhtsa.dot.gov.