Electronic Stability Control – The Essential Safety Component for your Vehicle

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Electronic Stability Control – The Essential Safety Component for your Vehicle

Driving safety took a leap in the mid-1990’s when Electronic Stability Control was introduced. Bosch, a German auto supplier, first developed the system with the Mercedes-Benz S-Class and BMW 7-series. Electronic Stability Control, or ESC, is the use of speed sensors on each wheel and the ability to brake those individual wheels. ESC adds a unit that helps monitor steering wheel angles and rotation around the vehicles vertical axis. If the vehicle starts to travel in a direction that is different than the indicated steering wheel position then the ESC will brake the appropriate wheel to help the driver maintain control. Simply put, a well-designed ESC system will substantially reduce the chances that you lose control of your car under most operating conditions. ESC systems are particularly helpful in preventing loss of control which results in vehicle rollovers and for preventing loss of control while driving on slippery surfaces. Consumer Reports even shared that, “Electronic Stability Control is the best safety feature to come out since seat belts.”

Many companies have renamed their ESC systems. Ford named it Advance Trac, Audi calls it Electronic Stability Program, GM named it Stabilitrak, and Porsche branded it Porsche Stability Management. Sometimes it can be confusing when requesting it on a vehicle, but all of these systems work the same way.

Over time, ESC has become more sophisticated and less costly. Many people now request ESC when purchasing a vehicle. In an analysis by the European Accident Causation Survey found that in 18% of all injury crashes and 34% of all fatal crashes, ESC would have reduced the likelihood of the crash or prevented it all together. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said that equipping vehicles with stability control can reduce the risk of rollovers by more than 70% and prevent as many as 9,000 fatal crashes per year.

By 2010, 85% of all vehicles had ESC. Significant reductions have been seen in single and multiple vehicle crashes when vehicles are equipped with ESC. The government now requires ESC on all passenger vehicles made in 2012 and later. Because ESC works seamlessly with antilock brake systems and traction control, these features will become a standard across all segments, even the low cost models. Although this is a great step towards better driving safety, many people still purchase or have purchased used cars without ESC. To find out if your car is equipped with ESC go to www.iihs.org/.

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