The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) is expected to order all new cars to have electronic stability control systems to help prevent rollovers and other crashes, according to news reports.
Some safety groups worry that the measure will not be tough enough, citing that the Transportation Department’s ruling will not even meet steps that domestic and overseas automakers have already adopted, especially for high rollover risk vehicles like SUVs.
The stability control systems work by using electronic sensors throughout the car that sense when the car is about to lose control, the system then makes minimal adjustments to braking and steering to avoid crashes.
The government estimates that stability control systems could save between 5,300 and 10,300 lives annually, and prevent 250,000 injuries. Over a quarter of all crash fatalities occur in rollover accidents, about 10,000 deaths a year, according to NHTSA.
Some fear that the new regulation will be too accommodating to carmakers that have not yet installed the system and allow them to use cheaper, less advanced stability systems.
Currently more than half of all new models and nearly 90 percent of sport utility vehicles already have the technology, and major carmakers such as Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, and Toyota have voluntarily been working on implementing crash-avoidance technology into their cars. The systems are marketed as a safety feature to attract customers.