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Anti-roll-over device said to have saved thousands of lives over three year period

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The federal mandate that manufacturers install stability controls on SUVs and light trucks saved an estimated 2,202 lives nationwide between 2008 and 2010, highway safety officials said Friday.

The requirement was issued in 2007 after a spate of roll-over accidents, particularly involving sport utility vehicles, caused fatal accidents. Electronic stability control (ESC) was phased in, with all vehicles built after August 2011 now required to have them.

The systems use onboard computers to help govern braking in conditions when the driver might otherwise lose control. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration on Friday released estimates that showed 634 lives were saved in 2008, 705 lives were saved in 2009 and 863 lives were saved in 2010.

“These numbers send a clear message about this technology’s life-saving potential,” said Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. “As more vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC in the coming years, we know the technology will save even more lives.”

In releasing the data, NHTSA encouraged people buying a used vehicle to consider whether it is equipped with an anti-roll-over system.

Under federal regulations, a light-duty truck is a vehicle having a gross weight of no more than 8,500 pounds. That category excludes passenger cars but includes pickups, vans and SUVs.

The government wants to extend the mandate to cover larger commercial trucks and buses, a goal that NHTSA says would prevent up to 56 percent of the roll-overs experienced by those two types of vehicles.

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