Australia Signs Up to New Global Car Safety Regulation
The Hon Anthony Albanese
Minister for Infrastructure, Transport,
Regional Development and Local Government
Leader of the House
Member for Grayndler
July 22 2008
Technology with the potential to save the lives of hundreds of motorists and other road users each year could soon be fitted as standard to all new Australian cars, 4WDs and utes.
The Rudd Labor Government has joined an international push for consistent, world-wide technical standards for Electronic Stability Control (ESC) – a computer-based system which helps drivers keep control of their vehicles, particularly in adverse driving conditions such as wet weather.
Along with other members of the World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Standards, Australia has voted to adopt a new Global Technical Regulation (GTR) on ESC systems.
International research has found this technology has the potential to be the greatest innovation since the seatbelt in saving lives and making our roads significantly safer.
Research undertaken for the British Government found vehicles equipped with ESC are 25 per cent less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those without it.
According to the US Department of Transportation, this technology, when fully deployed, could save up to 9,600 lives annually. From 2011, ESC will be required on all new passenger vehicles sold in the United States.
ESC continuously monitors a vehicle’s speed, steering wheel angle, direction of travel and cornering acceleration. If this data shows the vehicle is at risk of skidding or overturning, the system automatically applies individual brakes to correct any deviation from the direction the driver wants to go.
WHAT DOES THE ESC VOTE MEAN FOR THE LOCAL CAR INDUSTRY?
The new Global Technical Regulation opens the way for a detailed examination of the case for mandating ESC in Australia through the development of an Australian Design Rule (ADR).
Within weeks, a Regulation Impact Statement (RIS) assessing the potential ramifications for industry and the wider community of an ESC mandate will be released for public consultation.
The RIS will look at a range of issues including whether the goal of safer vehicles can be achieved via non-regulatory means.
If the case for an ADR is established, we expect to get the necessary legislation in place by the end of 2008.
Already many Australians appreciate the safety benefits of ESC, with almost half of the new cars and 4WDs sold in December fitted with the technology. What’s more, a growing number of manufacturers are voluntarily responding to the needs of the marketplace and including ESC as a standard feature in their latest models.
WHAT IS THE WORLD FORUM FOR HARMONISATION OF VEHICLE REGULATIONS?
The World Forum is a United Nations (UN) body charged with administering the 1958 Agreement on the Adoption of Uniform Technical Prescriptions for Vehicles and the 1998 “Global Agreement” on Global Technical Regulations for Wheeled Vehicles, Equipment and Parts.
Fifty countries, as well as car manufacturers, consumers and road users, participate in its deliberations.
Over the last half century, the 1958 Agreement has put in place 127 Regulations which are regularly updated in accordance with the latest technological progress and scientific breakthroughs.
The World Forum is currently working on GTRs for hydrogen and fuel-cell vehicles, as well as measures to improve the testing and reporting of engine efficiency and reduce harmful exhaust emissions.