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New suspension requirements aim to make driving safer

Avid fans of off-road driving are used to tinkering with a truck suspension to customize their vehicle. While taking steps like installing a lift kit can make off-roading more manageable, it might also impact the quality of steering. To ease the mind of many drivers and ensure safety, new rules have been enacted with an end goal of making the driving experience safer for everyone, regardless of where they are operating a vehicle. 

The new rule
Electronic Stability Control is designed to improve control over a vehicle. It kicks into effect when a motorist uses "extreme steering maneuvers," which normally occur when trying to get out of the way of an accident or obstacle, or when the automobile nears the limit of its traction. The new rule, also known as Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard No. 126, requires ESC to be installed on all new vehicles under 10,000 pounds. 

"ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to assist the driver in maintaining control in critical driving situations," the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration reported. "NHTSA estimates ESC will reduce single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 34 percent and single-vehicle crashes of sport utility vehicles by 59 percent, with a much greater reduction of rollover crashes." 

How it affects off-road driving
Installing a suspension lift kit may impact the steering, but things within the off-roading industry are changing to allow for better safety practices. Many manufacturers of aftermarket parts are taking steps to test their suspension lifts to see how they affect ESC systems, if they do at all, FourWheeler.com reported. Not only do these brands want to improve their safety reputation, but they also want to avoid liability for any accidents along the way. Already, some of the biggest names in the off-road industry have made strides toward certifying suspension lift kits and other accessories. 

Having ESC systems on a truck or Jeep could be a major benefit for drivers. Off-roading pushes a vehicle to its limits, and if car owners are partaking in activities like rock crawling or mudding, they will want to know that their control over a vehicle is at the highest possible level. The peace of mind provided by this new technology - not to mention the enhanced steering capabilities - may make it a must-have for off-roaders.