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John Bisnar
John Bisnar
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Government to mandate anti-rollover technology

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The federal government plans to issue requirements next month that new vehicles include anti-rollover technology, officials said Thursday, according to a news report in the Los Angeles Times Friday.

Nicole Nason, administrator of the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, told a congressional budget panel that electronic stability control technology would be mandated on all new passenger vehicles by 2011. NHTSA estimates that the technology may save 5,000 to 9,600 lives a year once it is fully deployed, which could take more than 10 years after the rules are implemented.

Anti-rollover technologies are said to be the answer to rollover accidents that account for one-third of all fatalities. More than 43,000 traffic fatalities in the Unites States are related to rollover crashes, the article states.

“Crash-avoidance technologies like [electronic stability control] are just the beginning of what we hope is a new era in highway safety, where many crashes and the pain and suffering from those crashes are prevented outright,” Nason said.

Electronic stability control senses when a driver may lose control of the vehicle and automatically applies brakes to individual wheels to help make it stable and avoid a rollover. Many automobiles, including sport utility vehicles, already have the technology, and several automakers have announced plans to include the technology. Some safety groups have said the proposed rule, first announced last year, would not deploy the technology into new vehicles fast enough and did not require the most stringent performance standards.

Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety, an organization supported by consumer, health and safety groups and insurance companies, wrote in November that the traffic safety administration had proposed a minimal standard for stability control that accommodated all existing electronic stability control systems while taking into account higher safety benefits from superior systems to reach its estimated reduction of deaths and injuries.

But Ronald Medford, NHTSA’s associate administrator, said Thursday that the technology was continuing to improve and the number of lives saved could be better than projections indicated. Nason said the agency was looking more seriously at requiring seat belts on commercial buses and planned to seek comments on the issue. Five Ohio college baseball players were killed in a March 2 bus crash in Atlanta, along with the driver and his wife.

Why ten years? Why not three or five? Won’t we save twice as many lives that way?

Why not a heightened, rather than a watered down safety standard. Is NHTSA afraid to impose high standards? Is their mandate to protect the motor public or the profits of automakers? Do I sound like I have an attitude about this? Your right!

OK, NHTSA, now where are our improved roof strength standards? Are you waiting for the auto industry to tell you what the standards should be or are you setting your own?