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Last Updated: Tuesday, 22 August 2006, 18:59 GMT 19:59 UK
Car buyers 'denied safety system'
A car testing electronic stability technology
Over 90% of new cars in Sweden are fitted with ESC as standard
A safety system which could prevent more than 400 deaths a year and 3,000 serious injuries is not being fitted on most new cars, it has emerged.

Electronic stability control (ESC) is available as standard in less than 40% of new British cars, Thatcham motor insurance research centre found.

The system works in situations where a driver may be losing control of a car.

The safety mechanism is fitted as standard in more than 90% of new cars in Sweden and 60% in Germany.

Thatcham urged manufacturers to fit the system - which costs 50 to manufacture - as standard on all new cars.

The system works through sensors which feed the nature of the emergency to a computer, which then intervenes by selectively braking individual wheels automatically.

British motorists, their passengers and other road users deserve the very best
Matthew Avery

This process helps the driver to control the vehicle.

Thatcham, a Berkshire-based firm, said just six out of 38 manufacturers fit ESC as standard to their entire range of UK vehicles.

Those companies are Mercedes, Audi, Volvo, Porsche, Lexus and Cadillac.

And five manufacturers - Chevrolet, Daihatsu, Lotus, Proton and Suzuki - do not have the safety mechanism at all, even as an optional extra.

Thatcham crash laboratory manager Matthew Avery described the current situation as "a shocking state of affairs".

He said: "British motorists, their passengers and other road users deserve the very best - do manufacturers think that their lives are less valuable?

"ESC doesn't just help during a crash like an airbag - it helps prevent the accident happening in the first place."


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