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Plea for standard ESP as Holden obliges

Coming: What the VE SS could look like (Digital image: Chris Harris).

RACV calls for standard ESP as Holden confirms it for the entire VE Commodore range

Holden logo27 Jun 2006

By NEIL MCDONALD and TERRY MARTIN

HOLDEN has announced electronic stability control as standard across its forthcoming VE Commodore range - just days after the RACV ramped up its push to urge country car buyers to demand ESP as standard equipment when they come to buying a new car.

Launching a state-wide campaign this week to raise awareness of the benefits of ESP, the RACV’s chief engineer Michael Case said road safety research had conclusively found that ESP saves lives.

"The potential benefits are enormous," he said. "It doesn’t matter which piece of overseas research you look at, this (ESP) is what we would call the golden bullet.

"While it’s increasingly available in Australia, it’s still only standard or optional equipment on a relatively small number of models." Mr Case said the RACV believed the same road safety benefits that have been observed overseas with the introduction of ESP would apply to Australia.

Fitted to about 40 per cent of all new vehicles sold in Europe, ESP helps drivers maintain control of a vehicle when its starts to skid. The system uses speed sensors on a car’s anti-lock brakes to monitor and take over braking capability independently when it detects a skid or high-speed manoeuvre where the car loses traction.

Detailed analysis of more than 1.5 million accidents across Europe by DaimlerChrysler in 2002 revealed a direct link between ESP and the reduction in accidents. Since the introduction of ESP across its range, accidents involving Mercedes-Benz passenger cars are claimed to have fallen by 30 per cent.

Last week, the company announced that it would also fit ESP as standard equipment on all Chrysler, Dodge and Jeep SUVs – and it would be available on more than 70 per cent of Chrysler Group vehicles – by the end of this year.

In the US – where ESP is standard on around four out of 10 passenger cars – research released this month by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety (IIHS) found that ESP could save as many as 10,000 lives a year by helping to prevent rollovers and other loss-of-control crashes.

The IIHS claimed that vehicles with ESP were 43 per cent less likely to be involved in a fatal crash.

Mr Case believes Australian new-car buyers can drive the change to ESP, particularly in rural areas.

The RACV campaign was launched in Melbourne in January but has now taken to the road, visiting regional centres across Victoria.

The road safety group is also using the Bosch ESP simulator to demonstrate its benefits to the public.

"The most common comment I have heard is, ‘Can I get it fitted to my car?’" he said. "Many people are saying they will be asking for ESP in their next car." ESP cannot be retro-fitted to existing cars.

Mr Case said the advantages of ESP were becoming more widely known but the RACV would persist with its campaign to agitate buyers to demand it in their new vehicles.

The issue of ESP has become more acute after a Tasmanian coroner last week joined the Victorian State Coroner and the Monash University Accident Research Centre in calling for ESP to be fitted to all cars, whether built in Australia or overseas.

Handing down his findings on a car crash which killed five women near Burnie in Tasmania in February, coroner Peter Wilson was reported by the Hobart Mercury and ABC Online as saying that the crash may have been prevented had the car, a Holden Commodore, been fitted with ESP.

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