General Motors will begin installing stability control systems on its 12-passenger vans in the 2005 model year.


Associated Press (AP) said the announcement came a day after Ford Motor Co. said it will begin putting stability control in its 15-passenger vans in 2006 – GM made stability control a standard feature on its 15-passenger vans starting with the 2004 model year.


“It will also take what we believe is already a very safe vehicle and make it even safer,” Ray Chess, GM’s line executive for trucks and vans, reportedly said.


AP said GM’s stability control system, known as StabiliTrak, uses sensors to determine the direction the driver wants to go in and applies brakes to the wheels if it senses the driver is going off course. Studies in Europe and the United States have indicated that the systems prevent accidents.


The news agency noted that the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration has found that vans carrying 10 or more people are three times more likely to roll over than lightly loaded vans – in 2002, the government renewed a safety warning for 15-passenger vans, which often are used by churches, schools and sports teams.


NHTSA reportedly says its warning also applies to 12-passenger vans that are built like 15-passenger vans.