New Study Confirms Effectiveness of ESC

Reprinted from The Safety Record, V3, Issue 3, May / June 2006

Washington, D.C. – A new University of Michigan Transportation Research Institute study confirms the results of earlier studies worldwide: Electronic Stability Control is remarkably effective in preventing single vehicle crashes-especially SUV rollovers.

Paul E. Green and John Woodrooffe presented their findings at the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration’s government-industry meeting last month. Like other researchers from Sweden to Japan, they found that ESC can significantly reduce the risk of a single vehicle crash. Using 1995-2003 data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and the General Estimates System (GES), Green and Woodrooffe constructed a case-controlled study, comparing accidents of vehicles of similar makes and models, with and without ESC, in loss-of-control crashes-such as single-vehicle crashes, run-off-the-road crashes, rollovers, and crashes in which the roads were not dry.

In single-vehicle crashes, the study found that the risk of a fatal accident dropped by 30 percent for vehicles with ESC. When researchers narrowed the cohort to vehicles no older than three years, the reduction increased to 35 percent. The numbers were even higher for SUVs. Using the total sample, researchers found that ESC diminished the risk of a fatal accident by 49 percent. Examining the ESC effect on more recent SUVs, the percentage again rose-to nearly 52 percent. The case for ESC’s effectiveness was even more dramatic for rollovers. The estimated reduction in odds of a rollover was 39.7 percent for passenger cars and 72.9 percent for SUVs.

Green and Woodroffe’s findings echo those of earlier studies from elsewhere in the U.S., Europe and Japan. Researchers have been measuring the technology’s effectiveness in multiple-car collisions, rear-end collisions, and on low-friction surfaces. For example, a 2004 five-state study estimated that ESC reduced the odds of a single-vehicle crash for passenger cars by 35 percent and for SUVs by 67 percent. Two Swedish studies in 2004 and 2005, analyzing passenger vehicle rear-end crashes on wet and icy roads found that ESC could reduce the odds of a serious injury or fatal crash by 56 percent on wet roads and 49 percent on icy or snowy roads.

Copyright © Safety Research & Strategies, Inc., 2006