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EC answers MEPís written question on ESC
Creation date: 07 March 2008
Response strengthens mutual conviction in potential of ESC.
Several accident studies have proven that electronic stability control (ESC) significantly reduces the number of fatalities, on average between 15 and 20%. It especially has an impact on slippery road surfaces and in other situations in which a driver loses control of the vehicle.
Written question by Member of the European Parliament Jeanine Hennis-Plasschaert (ALDE) to the Commission (published 6 March 2008)
Electronic stability control (ESC) reduces the chances of being involved in an accident by helping drivers to maintain control of their vehicles. If a driver has misjudged a corner or suddenly swerves to avoid an obstacle, stability control can help avoid a slip and can turn an accident into a near miss. Along with additional sensors, ESC feeds information to a computerised control unit. The signals are continuously monitored to determine whether or not the vehicle is losing control. If a deviation from the intended course is detected, the control unit applies a small amount of braking to whichever wheel is needed to help stabilise the vehicle. Some systems also adjust the power output of the engine.
Cars at the top end of the market tend to have ESC fitted as standard but smaller cars, particularly those used by families, young drivers and vulnerable motorists, often lack this key anti-skid technology.
1. Does the Commission agree with me that ESC is a very promising life-saving technology? If not, why not?
2. Is the Commission willing to honour its earlier commitment to speed up the widest availability of ESC as a standard item of equipment on all cars sold in Europe? If not, why not? If so, when is any action to be expected?
Answer given by Mr Verheugen on behalf of the Commission
The Commission agrees that Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Systems have the potential to reduce road traffic casualties by a significant amount. In particular, studies show that ESC Systems can reduce accidents by more than 20 percent in normal conditions and more than 30 percent in wet or icy conditions. Although market forces are already encouraging the introduction of ESC Systems in some vehicles, the Commission believes that legislation is needed to make sure that ESC Systems are fitted in all new vehicles.
This is why the Commission, following a thorough impact assessment, will propose a new Regulation of Parliament and of the Council requiring mandatory installation of ESC Systems in light and heavy duty vehicles sold in the EU. The Commission intends to present this proposal before the summer break.
The technical requirements for ESC Systems will be based on international standards developed within the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) framework.
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