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More government mandates - stability control

I just today read that the feds are requiring all vehicles sold in eth U.S. to have stability control systems starting with model year 2012 to prevent rollovers.

My feeling is that this is another mandated system that nobody wants or needs that may just add another possibility for failure by interfering with the braking systems.

People who roll vehicles despite the current rollover testing performed will likely roll them over anyway. They’ll just do so at higher speeds.

Comments anyone?


Stability control does more than just prevent rollovers.
It also helps to prevent accidents that result from drivers who drive too fast for conditions when it is raining or snowing–and even on dry roads. I have lost count of the number of drivers driving too fast for conditions daily, and I imagine that you see quite a few of them every day also.

When a driver begins to lose control of the vehicle, the stability control system “kicks in” and helps to bring the car back onto its intended course. Even if someone is not driving too fast for conditions, stability control can really help when encountering black ice, or oil-slicked pavement, or simply miscalculating one’s speed on an exit ramp. In short, this type of system can help to prevent skids and can help to keep a car on track, thus preventing accidents other than rollovers.

Does this system produce more possibilities for failure. Sure it does.
However, my present car–which I purchased specifically because it has stability control–currently has over 103k miles on the odometer, and nothing has ever gone wrong with the stability control system in the 8 1/2 years that I have owned it.

Shortly after buying the car, I decided to purposely take a turn too fast on a deserted side street, just to test the system’s capabilities. I was a bit skeptical, but I found that it did work as advertised. Since that time, I have occasionally felt it “kick in” when I am taking a turn a bit fast, due to my sometimes “spririted” driving style. That helps to remind me that I am being a bit of an ass, and it causes me to slow down.

If you go back to the '30s, there were predictions/fears that hydraulic brakes would cause accidents by causing cars to stop “too quickly”. High-compression engines were believed to be in danger of self-destructing. Automatic transmissions were predicted to lead to atrophy of left leg muscles in drivers. Seat belts would supposedly “trap” drivers in wrecked cars. You may be able to come up with additional dire predictions that did not come true, in connection with new safety or mechanical features.

Virtually every advance in automotive technology has been greeted by fear, apprehension, skepticism, or other negative feelings. Personally, I am “sold” on stability control and would never buy another car without it.

VDC, as always your thoughts are welcome and insightful. And I have the upmost respect for your opinions.

But I might point out that with the exception of seatbelts none of these advances were mandated by the government. In fact, the government probably would have banned high compression engines had they been as intrusive as they are now.

I also readily acknowledge that seatbelts, collapsable steering colmns, airbags, door beams, crush zones, and many other life saving advances would not be with us were it not for government mandates.

I guess my real problem with this one is my less than stellar experiences with ABS, confirmed by others as it becomes more common. ABS did not turn out to be as great as advertised. Stability control, if it’s truely worthy, will become common on its own, as did automatic trannys and hydraulic brakes. If, as it becomes common, weaknesses become apparent, it’ll falter on its own. Mandating it this early in its development is IMHO folly.

I also have a philosophcal problem with the government trying to protect us from ourselves. Their function is to protect us from others. Whether we chose to get stability control should be up to us, not to the feds.

I know my argument has holes. But I’m truely interested in hearing the opinions of others. Sincere thanks for posting.


As always, it is good to exchange thoughts with you–even if we don’t necessarily agree!

Ignoring the issue of a ‘government mandate’ (I generally don’t like them, but they’re occaisionally useful), I’m a complete believer in well-designed stability control systems, which are easily implemented in cars that now have computer engine controls, ABS and electronic throttles.

They have proven their use even to high-performance race drivers, to the point where they are sometimes banned as an unequal benefit to those who have them. A Car and Driver writer was recently testing a street Ferarri on the street. He decided to turn off the stability control and promptly put the car into a wall!

The newest trend in street motorcycles is stability control, with BMW and Ducati leading the Japanese makers it what is proving to be a breakthrough technology.

The one downside I see is that they are occaisionally too aggressive, limiting the ability to do ‘sporty’ driving in some cars.

So count me as a big stability control booster.

Rather than more excessive government meddling, complexity, and cost it would seem to me that the best option is people sticking to good driving habits rather than providing them more gee-whiz options which allow them to push the envelope even harder.

I’d rather see someone quit texting or using the cell phone while driving, stop blowing through red lights because they’re in a hurry, and cease darting in and out of traffic rather than provide them a means to allow them to dart in and out even faster.

And when problems develop with these systems (and it will) the shops and mechanics are going to catch the brunt of the complaints about why it costs XXXX dollars to repair.
Option yes, mandate no.

yep ,ABS made me skepticle of big brother(they hardly work as people believe)I believe basically in what Von Richtofen said(its not the machine,but the man in the machine) anyrate I believe they are probaly advantages to it-however for pitys sake teach the people to drive.Look at Toyotas experience with throttle by wire(I’m trying to stay off of aircraft that fly by wire eg;) Any rate dont force me to buy another complex system-Kevin

Thank you.

You too, my friend.

Kevin, you hit the nail on the head. I don’t like being forced to buy another complex system that if it has merit will become common on its own, as did disc brakes, radial tires, and minivan backup cameras.

Waste of car buyers’ money. But there are plenty more issues where this one came from.

It’s possible to make inexpensive, lightweight cars that beat the pants off of current models re: fuel efficiency. But in so doing, one would run afoul of crash-safety standards. Currently, our gov’t is simultaneously chasing contradictory goals.

It’s perfectly legal to sell, buy, and operate a vehicle (2 or 3 wheels) that meets no crash standards…but it’s illegal to sell a 4-wheeled vehicle that would ultimately be safer than the 2- and 3-wheeled varieties.

Also, it has been rather convincingly demonstrated that drivers drive more cautiously in cars perceived to be “unsafe,” and vice versa…meaning that mandating safety increases is likely to increase risk to others.

stability control systems…are easily implemented in cars that now have computer engine controls, ABS and electronic throttles.

Which is one big reason why I hate them. (I’ve been hating drive-by-wire back before hating DBW was cool.) The gov’t should (at least) mandate these systems to have safe failure modes (meaning that they’d fail to having an operable car without the nanny box.)

I think the same thoughts came around when ABS was introduced. And now there is not much thought of the system. ABS adds little cost to a current vehicle and mild complexity. Stability control will eventually go down this route.

Stability control is amazing IMHO on ice especially the black kind. It does what is impossible by even the most expert driver, it brakes a single rear wheel/eases throttle which pivots the vehicle on track. It huge benefit in winter driving for any vehicle.

Mandating not sure how I feel.

And ABS has been discovered to have some serious weaknesses, as we’ve elaborated in previous posts.

A government mandate they seem to suspiciously ignore…


Way close to the top of the list of “unbelievable items” but I heard of this earlier.

Wait to see if there is a stability control module fuse. If so, pull it and go! On the other hand, your insurance may offer a discount if your car has the feature as mine does with side air bags. Consider too if your insurance policy will contain weasel words that limit payment in case of the feature being intentionally disabled.

Not wanting it is fine, but why disable it? Makes no sense to me.

Since stability control in the OTHER car, may keep it from loosing control and running into me, I believe this is a legit law. If someone wants to risk their own life, that is one thing, but when they are risking mine, that is something else. I would not buy a new car without it.

Even if someone is so overly-confident about his own driving abilities to say that he doesn’t need this feature, the presence of these devices in other cars makes it less likely that someone will skid into your car.

And, as to those who say that they don’t need a device like this, I ask:
How are you able to see the invisible black ice that nobody else can see?
How do you know if someone’s old clunker leaked oil on the pavement where you are making a turn?
How do you know that you won’t ever miscalculate your speed on an exit ramp or an unfamiliar road curve?

Right on,if the market has a niche for it,sooner or later it will be standard(I know it works,but do I need it?I need to make that choice)-Kevin

Can you imagine the spectacular crashes that will result when the margin provided by the stability control is exceeded(No officer,the stability control,I didnt feel it kick in,cant be my fault) Driving is a privilege,not a right ,teach people to drive.
I know the systems work,but I’m unwilling to pay $1500 extra for extra security,if you want it ,buy it-Kevin