NHTSA to require stability control?

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Wednesday, February 01, 2006
By Yokota Fritz

Electronic Stability Control mandate

Electronic Stability Control is a technology for automobiles to help prevent rollover accidents. I read in today's dead-tree edition of the Wall Street Journal that the U.S. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) will soon decide that new automobiles sold in the U.S. must be equipped with Electronic Stability Control systems. According to the NHTSA, the insurance industry and Consumer Union, over half of automotive deaths are caused by rollover accidents. Studies show that universal application of Electronic Stability Control in cars and trucks will reduce highway deaths by an estimated 7,000 to 10,000 per year.

But what about the cyclists?

I'm a strong believer in the Law of Unintended Consequences. My prediction: motorists will become even more bone-headed in their driving then ever. They'll take turns at 40 mph confident that the technology of Electronic Stability Control will keep their tires on the ground.

Sight lines and traffic calming engineering will be even more meaningless than now. Full speed ahead around the curvy, narrow residential street, and if a little kid on a bike just happens to be around that bend in the road, well, he shouldn't have been there in the first place. That's why we build bike paths, donchyaknow.

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