NHTSA Study: ESC Saving Lives

Dec. 3, 2012

Dec. 3, 2012—Electronic stability control (ESC) technology in vehicles is saving an increasing number of lives every year, according to a three-year study released last week by the U.S. Department of Transportation's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

The NHTSA study estimates that ESC technology saved 2,202 lives between 2008 and 2010. According to the NHTSA, ESC saved 634 lives in 2008, 705 lives in 2009, and 863 lives in 2010.

"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 sensors of individual wheels to help drivers maintain control of vehicles that are beginning to lose directional control or stability. ESC technology was mandated for all light-duty trucks and passenger vehicles under the Federal Motor Vehicle Safety Standard 126 issued in 2007. The requirement has been phased in since then, and now applies to all new light vehicles manufactured after Sept. 1, 2011.

In May, the NHTSA proposed a new federal motor vehicle safety standard that would require ESC systems on all large commercial trucks and buses. Applying ESC technology to the heavy-duty fleet could prevent up to 56 percent of rollover crashes and 14 percent of loss-of-control crashes every year in those vehicles, according to the NHTSA.

"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 David Strickland, administrator of the NHTSA.

Consumers interested in purchasing used vehicles with ESC can visit safercar.gov for a list of 2005 to 2010 model year vehicles equipped with the technology.