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Highway Agency to Require Vehicle Stability Controls

The government wants all new passenger vehicles to have technology to prevent cars from losing control or rolling over within six years.

Citing an insurance industry study that found that as many as 10,000 road deaths annually could be prevented if all vehicles were equipped with Electronic Stability Control, the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration is proposing a requirement that all passenger cars and light trucks be fitted with the feature.

The control system, which has been included as either standard or optional equipment on a growing number of cars in recent years. The system, variously referred to as StabiliTrak (GM), Vehicle Skid Control (Toyota) or similar names, is especially common on sport utility vehicles, which have shown a propensity for rollovers in the past.

The system works by applying braking pressure to individual wheels of a car as the computer detects that the driver is losing control. Even if the driver is braking to regain control, the ESC system can apply incremental pressure to help the process.

The new regulation would take effect in the 2009 model year.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Corrected: January 11, 2019 at 12:00 AM EST
A previous version of and a Web intro to this story incorrectly referred to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration. It is the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
Kathleen Schalch
Kathleen Schalch is a general assignment reporter on NPR's national desk. Her coverage can be heard on NPR's award-winning newsmagazines Morning Edition, All Things Considered, and Weekend Edition.