Anti-Rollover Systems Reduce Crash Risk, Save Lives: NHTSA Study

August 9, 2011

With all the new safety technology available today, most owners of new vehicles built since 2008 probably don’t realize how important anti-rollover systems are in helping to prevent crashes. Many do know, however, that their car has electronic stability control (ESC).

Now, the results of a new study by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) confirm the effectiveness of this safety technology in preventing crashes. The NHTSA’s study data show that anti-rollover systems in vehicles save lives, reducing the risk of fatal crashes by 18 percent.

The government study looked at crash data from 1997 through 2009. They found that the technology cut overall crashes by six percent, while the risk of fatal crashes fell even more dramatically. For passenger cars, fatal crash risk dropped 23 percent and for vans and light trucks, it fell 20 percent.

As background, NHTSA finalized the regulation requiring all new vehicles built to have this technology back in April 2007. A phase-in of the technology began in 2008, and by 2009, more than 80 percent of passenger cars and just shy of 50 percent of light trucks had the technology. The drop-dead date is September 1, just a few weeks away, when all new 2012 vehicles built must have electronic stability control.

ESC works automatically by applying brakes to individual wheels and reducing engine torque to help correct oversteer and understeer. The safety system helps the driver maintain control in all weather and road conditions, such as ice, snow, gravel, wet pavement and uneven road surfaces, helping to prevent skids, spins and rollovers.

Mercedes-Benz 1995 development of ESP

Mercedes-Benz 1995 development of ESP

Enlarge Photo

Mercedes-Benz and BMW were the first automakers to introduce electronic stability control technology into their vehicles in the mid-1990s. The first Mercedes-Benz models to feature the technology, called electronic stability program (ESP) were the 1996 S-Class sedans and coupes. By 2000, it was standard on most Mercedes-Benz models and is on all the company's vehicles today. General Motors introduced its version of ESC, called StabiliTrak, in 1997 in certain Cadillac models. By 2004, it was standard on all full-size SUVs and vans and on all mid-size SUVs in 2005. Ford made stability control standard on all its vehicles in 2009. Many of the systems integrate ESC with traction control and anti-lock braking (ABS) technology.  

[NHTSA via Detroit News]

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