Europe’s tight safety standards look set to sweep the world as, from this month, certain new vehicles in the EU must be equipped with an electronic stability control programme – a requirement with far-reaching consequences for South African drivers. The technology will be required on all new cars and light commercials and will subsequently become compulsory on all new vehicles sold in the EU from October 2014. The excellent driving aid will be in use in every second new vehicle sold worldwide by 2013. The move to compulsory ESP is part of the European Commission’s plan to improve road safety. SAFETY RECORD ESP IN ACTION: A critical manoeuvre is demonstrated showing a vehicle with and without the system engaged. Werner Struth, president of the Bosch Chassis Systems Control division, said: "The technology can prevent as many as 80% of all skidding accidents. It is the most important vehicle safety system after the seat belt."It uses sensors to check 25 times a second whether the driver's steering input matches the vehicle's direction of travel and, if the system detects that the vehicle is likely to become unstable, intervenes by reducing the engine torque or, additionally, braking individual wheels. It works in conjunction with the anti-lock brakes and traction control and forms the basis for increased use of driver assistance systems using radar and cameras.IN LINE WITH UN PLANBosch developed ESP and, by 2010, 41% of all cars and LCV's of less than six tons rolled off the world's production lines were equipped with the system, the company said. The rampant roll-out of ESP supports the United Nations’ “Decade of Action for Road Safety 2011-2020” to which South Africa is a signatory. It is reported that 1.3-million people are killed on the world’s roads every year and the UN aims to halve that number by 2020.