Auto Service World
News   May 1, 2003   by Auto Service World

Preventing Rollovers Possible If Technology Used Fully


The technology exists to prevent rollover crashes, but it is not being used, according to a technologies expert.
“The problem is not that we’re not developing safety technologies to address rollovers, it’s that they are not being utilized to the extent that they can and should be to help prevent crashes," says Phil Headley, chief engineer advanced technologies, Continental Teves North America.
He made the statement today in a speech to the American Driver Traffic Safety Education Association (ADTSEA) Conference in Crystal Mountain, Mich. “Many rollover crashes could be prevented by existing, readily available technology, and we should be ensuring that every driver has this safety advantage.”
Headley noted that the prevailing attitude has given passive safety systems more attention than active systems. “Safety belts, child safety seats, air bags and other crash protection have the centre stage. Obviously they are very important and necessary.” Headley described automotive safety as a continuum with three distinct phases where safety measures can be applied. Phase one is avoidance — what can be done to keep the driver and vehicle from getting into trouble in the first place. Phase two involves retaining control if trouble begins. Phase three is protecting vehicle occupants when a crash is unavoidable. “Our focus is on the first two phases,” said Headley.
Studies show that thousands of lives and billions of dollars in social costs can be saved by equipping vehicles with “electronic reflexes” that give drivers more control to help prevent crashes from happening.
“Logically, automotive safety should concentrate on preventing accidents in the first place,” Headley said. In addressing rollovers, Headley said, “The vast majority of rollover accidents occur when the vehicle is unable to stay on the road. Continental has the technology available to assist drivers if they find themselves in understeering or oversteering situations that may cause them to lose control.”
The technology is called Electronic Stability Program (ESP), an electronic stability control system.
“We make it and so do others. At Continental Teves we have already progressed to the next generation of electronic stability control, called Active Rollover Protection (ARP),” Headley said. “These technologies can help save lives.
“In a recent JD Powers & Associates survey, consumers who know about electronic stability control listed it among their top ten desired features,” Headley said. “In fact, anyone who has driven it — reporters, government regulators and safety groups — are impressed with the system and want it on their vehicles.”
While electronic stability control systems like ESP are standard equipment, mostly on more expensive cars and light trucks, and optional on other vehicles, only about six percent of the vehicles built in North America are equipped with it. Headley encouraged manufacturers, suppliers, safety groups and regulators to work together to help make consumers more aware of ESC’s availability and benefits.
“Safety systems should be standard equipment rather than an option. Too often we see them as part of a larger, expensive equipment bundle which is why many people choose to forego purchasing the package,” Headley said. Headley’s viewpoint on SUVs, attacked recently with concerns about rollovers, was optimistic. “The fact is that SUVs need not be judged so harshly for a situation that can be addressed to everyone’s satisfaction. Rollovers represent a small subset of all crashes. Actually, SUVs have an excellent overall safety record. What we should be doing is directing our efforts to make all vehicles safer.”


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