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.

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