In May, 2007, a "Did You Know" article touted the safety benefits of Electronic Stability Control and stated that it was standard equipment on about 40 percent of the 2006 passenger vehicles and optional on another 15 percent. Now, four years later, thanks to a safety standard issued by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, ESC will be required on all new passenger vehicles starting with 2012 models.
ESC helps drivers control their vehicles during high speed maneuvers like entering curves too fast, swerving to avoid obstacles, or driving on slippery highways or snow and ice covered roads. ESC senses when a vehicle strays from the intended path or begins to spin out. The system automatically brakes individual wheels to attempt to keep the vehicle under control and moving in the intended direction of travel.
Research information by the IIHS as stated in its June 9, 2011 issue of "Status Report" shows that ESC reduces fatal single-vehicle crash risk by 49 percent and fatal multiple-vehicle crash risk by 20 percent for cars and SUVs. It lowers the risk of a deadly crash by 33 percent overall and cuts the risk of a fatal single-vehicle by 73 percent, according to the IIHS.
In the past, says the IIHS, top-heavy vehicles such as SUVs frequently rolled over, giving many models some of the highest death rates. But drivers of today's SUVs are among the least likely to die in a crash, according to the IIHS. The change is primarily due to widespread availability of ESC.
ESC is so important, according to the IIHS, that it is among the criteria to win Top Safety Pic, the Institute's award for vehicles with state of the art crash protection. It's also a requirement to land on Consumer's Reports' recommended list. However, just because your vehicle has ESC, it doesn't mean you can drive like a race car driver. It will HELP you keep your vehicle under control, but it won't do everything.
With the new requirement for ESC on all new vehicles in the US starting with next year's models, the US will be joining Australia, Canada, and the European Union, all of which will mandate ESC on all passenger vehicles beginning with the 2012 models.
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Dave Werner can be reached at email@example.com.