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UN mandates stability control in trucks - cars to follow

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The United Nations has agreed the roll-out of Electronic Stability Control on passenger vehicles from next year, meaning psycho boy racers will have to drive even faster before they can cause mayhem on Euro-roads.

A UN meeting in Geneva last week agreed to require the fitting of electronic stability control to heavy vehicles, such as trucks and passenger coaches. The regulations will be phased in over a number of years, with new vehicles being required to have the technology from 2010.

As the European Union puts it, ESC systems act on the braking or power systems of a vehicle to assist the driver to maintain control of the vehicle in a critical situation (caused, for example, by poor road conditions or excessive speed during cornering).

“They usually act by sensing wheel slip in individual wheels and reducing power or applying braking to one or more wheels to regain stability,” the EU says.

Or put another way, the vehicle will have the intelligence to anticipate a roll-over, wipeout, whatever, and will act to prevent it. Essentially the EU is ensuring that it gets round the problem of stupid drivers, by making the cars more intelligent.

The move will no doubt prevent horrible coach roll-overs and school run crumps.

At the same time, there is the danger that by removing the need for drivers to engage in complex tasks such as thinking about road and traffic conditions and acting accordingly, the new rules will encourage irresponsible speed freaks will push the envelope even further.

Still, let's look on the bright side. As the EU says in a particularly Brusselsian piece of glibness: “The widespread use of ESC in vehicles could significantly reduce the traffic congestion caused by accidents involving large vehicles.” ®

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