Electronic Stability Control

Image from the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) technology has saved 2,202 lives in the U.S. in the last three years, according to a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). A federal safety regulation issued in 2007 mandated ESC in all passenger vehicles and light-duty trucks manufactured on or after September 1, 2011, according to a NHTSA statement. ESC systems work by using computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help drivers maintain control when a vehicle is starting to lose directional control and/or stability, NHTSA explains.

RedOrbit writes:

Electronic breaking systems, which were implemented by many automakers before they were mandated to do so, were found in only 34 percent of light trucks and in 20 percent of cars in 2006, the Journal reported. However, four years later, ESC technology could be found in more than three-fourths of all automobiles and 87% of trucks, according to the new study.

But even with the popularity of ESC systems, NHTSA said it will take 10 to 15 years before the vast majority of cars on the road have ESC, writes Joseph B. White on The Wall Street Journal blog Driver’s Seat.

NHTSA Administrator David Strickland said: “NHTSA research has consistently shown ESC systems are especially effective in helping a driver maintain vehicle control and avoid some of the most dangerous types of crashes on the highway, including deadly vehicle rollover situations or in keeping drivers from completely running off the roadway.”

Ben Klayman reports in a Reuters article appearing in the Chicago Tribune that NHTSA proposed a new safety standard in May that would require ESC systems on large commercial trucks and large buses for the first time. Applying the technology to the larger vehicles, Klayman writes, could prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes per year, plus 14% of accidents that occur due to loss of control, according to the agency.

Klayman quotes U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood as saying last Friday: “As more vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC in the coming years, we know the technology will save even more lives.”

NHTSA suggests that consumers looking to buy used vehicles consider ones equipped with ESC, and writes that the agency maintains a list of model year 2005 to 2010 vehicles equipped with this life-saving technology at www.safercar.gov. Consumers can also search at the same website by individual makes and models.

“The NHTSA study comes on the heels of a call earlier this month by the National Transportation Safety Board for a wider range of collision avoidance technologies to also be made mandatory on new vehicles,” White writes.