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New vehicles to offer crash prevention

Braking technology will become standard for passenger vehicles sold in the United States, which could save thousands of lives each year.

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NEW YORK (CNNMoney.com) -- Plans to add crash prevention technology to all new passenger vehicles by 2012 could save up to 10,000 lives each year on U.S. roadways, a Department of Transportation official said Thursday.

The agency would require electronic stability control (ESC) to be installed on new vehicles sold in the United States starting with model year 2009, Transportation Secretary Mary Peters said in a press release.

ESC uses automatic computer controlled braking to keep drivers from losing control on slippery roads or in emergency maneuvers, in many cases preventing deadly rollovers from occurring.

Every new passenger vehicle sold in the U.S. by 2012 would have the crash prevention technology, Peters said.

The National Highway Transportation Safety Administration estimates ESC will save between 5,300 and 9,600 lives annually and prevent between 168,000 and 238,000 injuries.

The estimated average cost of ESC is approximately $111 per vehicle, assuming the model already features an antilock brake system. It is expected to cost automakers - including leaders Ford, General Motors, Chrysler, Toyota and Honda - $1 billion to add the feature to the vehicles.

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