British Formula One ace Lewis Hamilton has called on fleet decision-makers to buy or lease company cars fitted with electronic stability control (ESC) technology.
The 2008 F1 world champion and runner-up in last weekend’s British Grand Prix at Silverstone, made his call in a message delivered at the eSafety Challenge 2010, held at the Millbrook Proving Ground in Bedfordshire this week.
The event, which attracted around 350 delegates including fleet chiefs, was organised by eSafety Aware and supported by RoadSafe.
A range of eSafety technologies is gradually being fitted to all new vehicles. ESC is the most prevalent, as it features in more than 60% of all new vehicles. However, uptake is still slow.
Fleets are responsible for buying almost two-thirds of all new cars sold in the UK. Promoters of the benefits of eSafety, which include the government-backed Driving for Better Business campaign, delivered by RoadSafe, say corporates must lead the uptake of ESC.
In a speech delivered to delegates by Jonathan Neale, on behalf of Mr Hamilton, the F1 champion said, “Fleet purchasing is a great way to promote road safety and to only operate cars fitted with ESC.
“There are affordability issues around ESC, which is why it is not yet fitted in all cars but where there is an option for fleets, I would endorse the decision to operate the car equipped with ESC.”
A Department for Transport study concluded that vehicles equipped with ESC were 25% less likely to be involved in a fatal accident than those without it. That equates to 380 fewer fatalities and the reduction of 7,800 injuries a year on UK roads.
The European Commission has decreed that all new vehicle types should be equipped with ESC from 2012, with all new vehicles being equipped by 2014.
But Mr Hamilton added, “When there is an option I would always choose a car with ESC. Don’t wait for ESC to be mandatory.”