The Malaysian government is to make electronic stability control compulsory for new passenger vehicles in 2018, three years earlier than originally planned.

Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai says the move to make Malaysia the first country in the region to require ESC is a result of pressure by the ASEAN New Car Assessment Program on car manufacturers.

ASEAN NCAP Chairman Wong Shaw Voon says ESC will save thousands of lives in Malaysia, and his group wants other countries in the region to follow suit and mandate the technology.

The government’s Malaysian Automotive Institute posted a report from the Sun Daily newspaper that the Road Transport Dept. originally had planned for ESC to be part of the UN/ECE regulation for passenger cars sold in Malaysia by 2021.

Liow says ESC could prevent at least 40% of traffic deaths.

“It could further reduce risk of collisions by having significant better maneuvering control during critical situations,” he tells reporters at a Malaysian “Stop the Crash” event.

Stop the Crash is a new initiative to promote crash-avoidance technologies organized by the Global NCAP.

New locally built vehicles that launched this year, including Proton’s Persona, Perdana 2.4L and Saga, have ESC, as does Perodua’s premium Bezza model.

“Studies have proved that ESC is the most cost-effective lifesaving device at present, with positive results from mandating ESC in many countries such as (European Union), U.S., Turkey, Australia, New Zealand, Japan, South Korea and others,” Liow says,

The cost-benefit ratio of ESC is eight to 14 times better than head-restraint systems, 18 times better than a center seatbelt and 10 to 28 times higher than an advanced airbag, he says.

ASEAN NCAP wants to see a range of safety-assist technologies included in all new passenger cars by 2020, including ESC, antilock braking, blindspot warning, automated emergency braking, lane-departure warning, seatbelt reminders and collision warning systems.

ASEAN NCAP Secretary-General Khairil Anwar Abu Kassim says safety-assist technology will count toward 25% of the overall safety rating of new cars in the next four years.