Driving for safety

The European parliament has agreed that from November 2011, all new passenger cars and commercial vehicles must be equipped with the electronic stability programme (ESP) safety system.

Over the first six months of 2008, 56 per cent of newly registered passenger cars in the UK featured ESP, a 30 per cent increase over a period of three years. The new regulations will mean that all new passenger and commercial vehicles registered in the European Union (EU) must be fitted with ESP by November 2011. From November 2014, this will apply to all types of new vehicles.

ESP includes the functions of the anti-lock braking system (ABS) and traction-control system (TCS) while also being able to detect and counteract vehicle skidding. New regulations mean that from 2010, vehicle models will only be able to obtain the Euro NCAP association five-star rating if they are equipped with ESP as standard.

Dr Werner Struth, president of the Chassis Systems Control division at Bosch, said: ‘ESP can prevent up to 80 per cent of all skid-related accidents. After the seat belt, the system is the most important safety technology in the car.’

The compulsory installation of ESP forms part of a wider range of measures by the EU to improve road safety and reduce fuel consumption. As well as ESP, predictive emergency braking and lane-departure warning systems will be mandatory for new models of commercial vehicles weighing more than 3.5 tonnes and for minivans and buses with more than eight seats from November 2013.

Low rolling resistance tyres and tyre pressure monitoring systems will also be made mandatory starting in November 2012. In addition, more than 50 existing EU Directives and 100 amendment regulations will be removed and replaced by UN/ECE regulations where possible.