Electronic stability control saves lives

A landmark Australasian study conducted by the Monash University Accident Research Centre (MUARC) has confirmed Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems reduce the risk of single vehicle crashes by up to 50 per cent.

The study, commissioned by 13 state and federal road agencies and automobile clubs, is the first to investigate the real world performance of ESC systems in reducing crash risk in Australia and New Zealand.

Results of the crash pattern-based research were launched on 14 November 2007 by international road safety expert, David Ward -- Director General of the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) Foundation for the Automobile and Society.

"These results confirm the effectiveness of ESC technology in Australian conditions," Mr Ward said.

Single vehicle crashes account for 43 per cent of driver fatalities on Victorian roads in 2006 and around 2,000 serious injuries each year.

"The research shows that ESC is a vital technology for reducing the rate of single vehicle crashes in Australia and New Zealand. It is particularly important for 4WD vehicles where single vehicle crash risk is high and injuries are often severe," study author Dr Stuart Newstead said.

The study analysed crash patterns of 7,700 ESC equipped vehicles manufactured from 1997 to 2005 that had been involved in crashes across Australia and New Zealand between 2001 and 2005.

These were compared with crash patterns of about 203,000 vehicles without ESC that crashed during the same time period.

The study found a reduction in the risk of single vehicle crashes of:

  • 25 per cent for ESC equipped cars;
  • 51 per cent for ESC equipped 4WD/SUVs; and
  • 28 per cent across all vehicle types.

In single vehicle crashes involving a driver injury there were even bigger reductions:

  • 28 per cent for ESC equipped cars;
  • 66 per cent for ESC equipped 4WD/SUVs; and
  • 30 per cent across all vehicle types.

In light of the study results the RACV has renewed calls on vehicle manufacturers to fit ESC to all models and said consumers should insist ESC be fitted to any new vehicle they purchase, particularly 4WDs.

"ESC is currently being fitted to around 40 per cent of new vehicles sold in Victoria, which means there is significant room for improving the rate at which this potentially life saving technology is introduced to the Australian and New Zealand vehicle fleets," said Mr Michael Case, Chief Engineer -- Vehicles, RACV.

"The safety specifications we set for vehicles today will affect crash risk and injury outcomes for the next 20 years that these vehicles are likely to remain on the road." 

Editor's Note: Original news release can be found here.