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Brussels, 16th November 2007

Electronic Stability Control to improve safety of trucks and coaches

The safety of European registered trucks and tourist coaches will be greatly improved as a result of an agreement reached at a United Nations meeting in Geneva to equip new vehicles with electronic stability control systems. Electronic stability control (ESC) avoids accidents by helping the driver maintain control of the vehicle in critical situations. It is estimated that equipping these vehicles with ESC system could ultimately save over 500 deaths and 2500 serious injuries per year in the European Union.

European Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy, stated: "This development is very welcome. The introduction of ESC was one of the key recommendations of the CARS 21 High Level Group and I am glad that this is now being implemented. These advanced systems have a huge life-saving potential, particularly for large goods and passenger vehicles where the consequences of an accident can be devastating."

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. As well as preventing casualties, the widespread use of ESC in vehicles could significantly reduce the traffic congestion caused by accidents involving large vehicles.

The agreement, made at a United Nations meeting in Geneva, requires heavy vehicles approved by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe braking Regulation (Regulation 13) to be fitted with an ESC system meeting an agreed specification. This allows the EU to make ESC a mandatory requirement by reference to this Regulation. The requirements will be phased in over a number of years, with priority given to the vehicles where the potential benefit is greatest, such as heavy truck/trailer combinations and touring coaches. Regulation 13 will require new vehicle types in the most common categories to be fitted with ESC from 2010.

Including these provisions in UNECE Regulation 13 - which is a braking regulation widely accepted not only in Europe but also in many other parts of the world -promotes harmonisation of standards and encourages the wider use of ESC, even in countries where it may not be a mandatory requirement. More information on how the UNECE works.

Similar requirements for fitting ESC to light vehicles such as passenger cars are expected to be agreed in 2008 by means of a global harmonised regulation on light vehicle stability control.
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