A new study from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration
(NHTSA) has found that electronic stability control (ESC) is responsible for
saving an increased number of lives each year since federal standards required
that it be installed in all new vehicles.
ESC works by applying the brakes electronically at varying
rates to each wheel on the vehicle helping keep directional control of the car
when the driver is having trouble controlling the vehicle and keeping it
stable. The NHTSA report projected that between 2008 and 2010 ESC had saved
over 2,200 lives.
In the report breakdown, an estimated 634 lives were saved
in 2008 and 705 lives in 2009. In 2010, a total of 863 lives were spared thanks
to ESC, which included 366 light truck drivers and 497 passenger car occupants.
Control Prevents Off-Road Crashes and Rollovers
The NHTSA found a big drop in roadway injuries and deaths
due to the “remarkable improvements to vehicle safety.” According to the study,
the likelihood that a driver is involved in a crash is shrinking to historic
lows, it credits this improvement to the technology that is loaded into new
One example of significant improvement is in the case of
rollovers. The likelihood of being involved in a rollover has dropped roughly 6
percent every year between 2000 and 2008. Rollovers have always been a rare but
deadly accident type so their decline has helped dramatically improved injury
and death rates.
In the recent “Most Wanted” list, which the National
Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) puts out, it recommended that ESC systems
also be required in commercial fleets. It cited statistics from the Insurance
Institute for Highway Safety which estimated that ESC prevented 439 fatal
commercial crashes each year.
ESC can also help prevent accidents that involve a car going
off the road. In a recent press release David Strickland with the NHTSA 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.”
ESC Required Starting
The first federal regulation related to ESC was issued in
2007. It mandated that ESC technology appear in light-duty trucks and passenger
vehicles through a process that was phased in, requiring all new models to have
the technology as standard by the 2012 model year.
The NHTSA also said that its estimate of saved lives due to
ESC is probably low due to the difficulty determining exactly how many vehicles
were actually equipped with ESC. It expects that in the next 10 to 15 years
almost all vehicles on the road will be ESC equipped as older vehicles are
replaced with new ones. This will lead to an increase in lives saved as more
and more vehicles have this important safety feature.
A recent report by the NHTSA found that ESC has helped save
over 2,200 lives since being required by federal mandate. The technology has
been particular effective in preventing rollovers and vehicles departing the