The benefits of electronic stability control (ESC) have been increasing each year, according to a three-year study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) that estimates over 2,200 lives were saved during that period.
The study looked at the years 2008-2010, which was the phase-in period for stability control before the technology was mandated in new vehicles for the 2012 model year starting on September 1st, 2011. The report shows there were 634 lives saved in 2008, 705 lives in 2009, and 863 lives in 2010. As the trend suggests, those lives saved per year is expected to increase as more vehicles with ESC travel the roads, eventually displacing older models without that technology.
ESC is a system that helps keep a vehicle on its intended path during a turn, to avoid sliding or skidding. The stability-control system momentarily brakes one or more wheels and, depending on the system, reduces engine power to pull the car back on course.
ESC provides an extra measure of control in slippery conditions and crash-avoidance situations. It's especially helpful with tall, top-heavy vehicles like SUVs and pickups, where it can also help keep the vehicle out of situations where it could roll over.
If you are in the market for a used car, make sure you buy one with ESC, especially if it is to be used by an inexperienced driver. Before the mandate, most SUVs, pickups, and minivans were equipped with stability control, but some models only offered it as an option. Make sure the specific vehicle you intend to buy has this life-saving technology in place.
For more on safety features, see our special section.
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