Six state premiers and two territory chief ministers are banding together to require that new vehicles be equipped with side airbags and electronic stability control within three years.

The eight public officials, all members of the Australian Labor Party, say they will legislate the mandate even if the federal government does not.

The officials say states and territories will require the safety equipment in both locally made and imported new-passenger vehicles that are manufactured after Dec. 31, 2010.

“States and territories continue to be concerned about the high level of road fatalities in Australia and the slow take-up of new safety technologies in vehicles,” a communique issued by the Council for the Australian Federation (CAF) says.

“Approximately 38% of new-passenger vehicles sold in Australia have electronic stability control fitted as standard, compared with approximately 70% in Europe,” it says.

“(The) CAF will urge the (federal) prime minister to expedite work on vehicle standards to require improved safety technologies be fitted to new passenger vehicles. In the absence of an equivalent national standard, states and territories have agreed to progressively require safety technologies as a condition of registration.”

The move comes just two weeks after Victoria Premier John Brumby announced his state would require side airbags and ESC in new cars as part of a 10-year plan to cut the state’s road fatalities by a third.

“Premiers from other states have agreed with Victoria that technology will be the next wave in saving lives on our roads,” Brumby tells reporters. “All premiers agree we need to be nationally consistent. I don’t think manufacturers will have a problem with this.”