The UK is seriously lagging behind its European counterparts as far as the fitting of electronic stability control (ESC) to new cars is concerned, a new survey has revealed.
The Euro NCAP study shows that out of the 25 member states, the UK finished 21st, with only 56% of new cars sold here having ESC fitted as standard. Studies have shown that the safety system can reduce the number of accidents by 20%.
In Britain, it could save up to 240 lives and prevent around 3000 serious injuries every year. Now Euro NCAP is calling on manufacturers to fit ESC as standard on all new cars.
ESC is an anti-skid safety system that recognises when a car is going out of control. In a fraction of a second an electronic control unit applies the brakes on individual wheels to help keep the car under control before a skid develops.
The secretary general of Euro NCAP Adrian Hobbs said: 'The UK has a dreadfully low fitment rate, which is surprising because historically it places great importance on road safety.
Denmark has the highest numbers of new cars fitted with ESC as standard, at 77%. FIA president Max Mosley claimed that this is because tax incentives are offered to motorists who pay to have the system fitted to their cars.
In the UK only 11% of superminis have ESC as standard. Conversely, 98% of luxury cars have ESC as standard. Adrian Hobbs said, 'It seems money buys safety.'
ESC compulsory by 2009?
As a special launch to raise awareness of ESC, the European Commission said it is considering introducing legislation to make ESC mandatory on all new cars in 2009. However Ivan Hadoc of the European Automobile Manufacturers' Association said the main reason manufacturers don't fit ESC on all new cars is down to price.
He explained that in poor EU countries such as Romania, car buyers couldn't afford the £200 to pay for the extra cost of ESC. He also said he did not believe European legislation was the way forward because it needed worldwide consensus.
To find out more about the Euro NCAP survey see www.euroncap.com
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