New Safety Feature In Cars Could Save Lives

By: Lindsay Puccio
By: Lindsay Puccio

April 14, 2005

It's a little known safety feature that could save lives. It's called an Electric Stability Control, or ESC, that has sensors on all 4 wheels to help prevent loss of control during a turn.

If a driver swerves to avoid an accident, ”The system then can do a number of things, it can break the wheels individually, or change the power to the engine to help bring that vehicle back online," said David Zuby, Insurance Institute for Highway Safety.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety put the ESC to the test. The ESC contained car turned smoothly at 40 miles per hour, while the car with no ESC screeched its tires as skidded off track, hitting many cones.

"It's a big benefit for consumers and help reducing the consequences of highway crashes in the future," said Zuby.

For cars, it can reduce the risk of single vehicle crashes by 50 percent, and as for sport utility vehicles, that number is even higher.

"It's more beneficial in SUVs because [when it is absent in] a car, you may go off the road and slide into a field; [when it concerns] an SUV, you go off the road and your off side wheels catch in the mud and you flip over," said Zuby.

Automakers have now stepped up their plans to equip vehicles with this feature. The electronic stability control comes standard on all Toyota SUVs and comes as an optional feature on most cars but experts say most consumers aren't even aware of that.

"If they don't do the research they wont know--it's something that we depend on our sales people to bring out in the open for the customers," said Mike Pina, a Toyota sale manager.

With the price tag only being $400 to $500, it's a small price to pay for someone's safety. Currently, Electronic Stability Control is standard on only 20 percent of cars, but as of 2010, General Motor's vehicles will have ESC standard on all of their vehicles.

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