NHTSA Pleased to See Fatality Rate Reducing Due to Electronic Stability Control

NHTSA's fishhook exam

More lives are being saved in vehi­cle col­li­sions now that elec­tronic sta­bil­ity con­trol (ESC) has been placed in every vehi­cle sold. It’s esti­mated that 2,200 lives were saved over the past three years, accord­ing to the National High­way Traf­fic Safety Admin­is­tra­tion. A fed­eral rule man­dat­ing the use of ESC, or which is some­times referred to elec­tronic sta­bil­ity pro­gram (ESP), was put in place in April 2007. As of Sept. 1, 2011, every new vehi­cle sold has to use ESC. The inten­tion was to help vehi­cles avoid skids and other acci­dents, and it appears to be par­tic­u­larly effec­tive at pre­vent­ing rollovers, NHTSA says.

ESC uses many of the same com­po­nents of anti-lock brakes. Sen­sors detect when the vehi­cle is in dan­ger of skid­ding or other dan­gers and can apply brakes and take other safety steps like reduc­ing engine speed. Dri­vers are assisted in main­tain­ing con­trol through the added tech­nolo­gies. US Depart­ment of Trans­porta­tion Sec­re­tary Ray LaHood is con­fi­dent that num­ber of fatal­i­ties that ESC has already pre­vented will con­tinue to grow.

As more and more vehi­cles are sold each year with ESC, NHTSA esti­mates the num­ber of rollover acci­dents could be reduced by 84% – once the tech­nol­ogy becomes wide­spread in the US fleet. This would reduce fatal­i­ties by as much as 5,300 to 9,600 annu­ally. This could take a decade or longer to com­plete, given that the aver­age age of vehi­cles on the roads today is about 11 years old. Some are even older – reg­is­tra­tion data showed that 20% are older than 16 years, Jim Lentz, Toyota’s US chief exec­u­tive said at the 2012 LA Auto Show dur­ing a keynote speech. ESC is of a grow­ing num­ber of auto­mo­tive tech­nolo­gies designed to pre­vent rollovers or reduce risk if one occurs, along with other pas­sen­ger safety hazards.