Global NCAP says the South African government should make it mandatory for new vehicles sold locally to be fitted with electronic stability control (ESC).

Speaking to the media after the safety authority and the Automobile Association of South Africa released the results of their fourth round of crash testing, Global NCAP secretary general David Ward said ESC provided “a huge advantage” in terms of safety.

“It’s not an expensive addition. It’s simply a gyro-sensor and software than works in conjunction with the vehicle’s anti-lock brakes to correct a slide,” said Ward, who is also president and CEO of the Towards Zero Foundation.

“The unit cost that manufacturers are paying to suppliers is probably a maximum of about $50 [around R765 at the current exchange rate], so it’s not an expensive item. The experience we’ve seen with all these kinds of technologies is that as they get more and more widespread globally, the unit costs drop even more.

“So, if there’s one thing that I would say the South African government should do next, apart from sorting out the investment in the laboratory capacity to regulate effectively, is adopt a regulation for ESC. It’s a tremendous technology."

Alejandro Furas, Global NCAP technical director, echoed Ward’s sentiments.

“It’s hard for us to understand why [South Africa] doesn’t yet have a mandatory ESC requirement and pedestrian protection requirement,” Furas said.

“It’s a great opportunity for the South African government ... to start making a list of those regulations and just propose a roadmap for the next years and start electing them, one by one, and making them mandatory,” he added.

In the latest round of testing, the GWM Steed 5, Renault Kwid and Haval H1 were all crash tested, with the results proving a “serious cause for concern”.

Willem Groenewald, AA South Africa CEO, said his organisation had “been calling for an improvement in the safety standards set by government” for the past few years.

“These results again confirm the urgent need for this to happen; we simply cannot have unsafe cars on our roads anymore.

“We have spoken to the National Regulator for Compulsory Standards about standards and although the evidence is clear, we are eager to see movement in this regard. Action is needed, and needed now because it’s about protecting South African citizens,” Groenewald said.