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Brandon Seiler's Blog on Cars

Government makes electronic stability control standard by 2012

 

Beginning in 2012, any new car bought in the United States will come equipped with electronic stability control (ESC). The new mandate comes after studies conducted by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration found: 

“.. ESC will reduce single-vehicle crashes of passenger cars by 34% and single vehicle crashes of sport utility vehicles (SUVs) by 59%, with a much greater reduction of rollover crashes. NHTSA estimates ESC would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC.” (1)

“No other safety technology since the seat belt holds the potential to save as many lives and prevent as many injuries as electronic stability control,” said Nicole Nason, administrator for the NHTSA. (2)

Currently, it’s estimated that only 40% of new vehicles come with ESC standard, and adding ESC to these vehicles will cost the automotive industry $985 million. Despite the cost, Automotive Digest reports that Ford will beat the 2012 deadline by 3 years on all Ford, Lincoln and Mercury brands sold in the US, while GM and Toyota will have ESC standard by the end of 2010; ESC is now optional on all Toyotas. (2)

In particular, Consumer Reports found that “ESC provides an even greater safety benefit for SUVs. That is because it can prevent a vehicle from getting into a situation where it could roll over, a particularly lethal type of crash seen more frequently with tall vehicles. According to the IIHS study, ESC reduces the risk of fatal single-vehicle SUV rollovers by 80 percent.” (3)

In addition to the direct effects of the new regulation, Consumer Reports also noted that, “An expected benefit of this rule is that ABS and traction control will become a standard feature across all segments, including low-cost models that traditionally have been difficult to purchase with ABS.” (3) 

HOW IT WORKS

“Electronic stability control uses a computer linked to a series of sensors—detecting wheel speed, steering angle, and sideways motion. If the car starts to drift, the stability-control system momentarily brakes one or more wheels and, depending on the system, reduces engine power to keep the car on course. ESC can't overcome the laws of physics, however, so drivers still need to be careful in turns, especially in slippery conditions.” (3)

SOURCES:

(1)http://www.nhtsa.gov/Laws+&+Regulations/Electronic+Stability+Control+%28ESC%29
(2) http://www.automotivedigest.com/content/displayArticle.aspx?a=35182
(3) http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/cars/new-cars/news/2006/nhtsa-proposal-to-make-esc-standard-on-all-cars-9-06/overview/nhtsa-proposal-to-make-esc-standard-on-all-cars-9-06.htm 

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Brandon Seiler is a bonafide car guy, member of the Northwest Auto Press Association and proud Washingtonian. He covers the latest auto news, technology, and pretty much anything having to do with car culture. You don't have to like cars to read his blogs, you just have to be able to read.

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