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Traffic report: Computerized brakes saved thousands of lives

November 30, 2012|By Joseph Serna

The National Highway and Traffic Safety Administration is considering requiring new models of buses and large commercial trucks to have computerized braking systems after a study released Friday showed such technology has saved thousands of lives in smaller vehicles.

The electronic stability control braking systems help drivers maintain control when their rear tires begin to spin out or when their front wheels start to lock and the motorists can’t steer. The braking systems apparently prevent many motorists from driving off the road.

The report, which studied crashes from 2008 to 2010, estimates that more than 2,200 drivers were saved from fatal accidents.

“These numbers send a clear message about the technology’s life-saving potential,” U.S. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood said in a news statement.

The agency estimated the lives saved by comparing the number of fatal crashes in vehicle models before and after they had the systems installed. The government estimates there were 634 fewer fatalities because of the technology in 2008, 705 in 2009, and 863 in 2010.

The braking systems are mandatory in all passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks in 2012 models or later. The Safety Administration is considering recommending such systems for all buses and large commercial trucks, estimating the change could save lives in 50% of crashes in which a large vehicle is involved.

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