Electronic stability control technology (ESC) is saving an increasing number of lives each year, according to a three-year study released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). The NHTSA study estimates that ESC saved 2,202 lives from 2008 to 2010 alone.
Electronic stability control was mandated on all light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles under a federal safety regulation issued in 2007. The requirement was phased in over the years covered by the study and applies to all new light vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2011.
"These numbers send a clear message about this technology's life-saving potential," said U.S. Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood. "As more vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC in the coming years, we know the technology will save even more lives."
ESC systems use computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to help drivers maintain control of a vehicle that's beginning to lose directional control, stability or both. NHTSA’s analysis estimates ESC technology saved the lives of a growing number of passenger vehicle occupants each year between 2008 and 2010. There were 634 lives saved in 2008, 705 lives in 2009 and 863 lives in 2010.
"NHTSA research has consistently shown ESC systems are especially effective in helping a driver maintain vehicle control and avoid some of the most dangerous types of crashes on the highway including deadly vehicle rollover situations, or in keeping drivers from completely running off the roadway," said NHTSA Administrator David Strickland.
NHTSA maintains a list of model-year 2005 to 2010 vehicles equipped with this technology at www.safercar.gov. Alternatively, people can search by individual make and model at the same website.
NHTSA published a final rule in April 2007 establishing Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126, which requires manufacturers to install ESC systems on all passenger cars, SUVs, vans and pickup trucks. The requirement set a phase-in schedule for compliance, culminating in a mandate for 100% installation of ESC technology on all new light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles manufactured on or after Sept. 1, 2011, or for model-year 2012 vehicles.
In May, NHTSA proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard to require electronic stability control systems on large commercial trucks and large buses for the first time ever. Applying ESC technology to the heavy-duty fleet could prevent up to 56% of rollover crashes each year and another 14% of loss-of-control crashes in these vehicles, NHTSA said.