The Car and Truck Fleet and Leasing Management Magazine

New Safety Study Finds 34% More Drivers Maintain Better Control With Electronic Stability Control

April 5, 2004

Unveiled at the SAE 2004 World Congress, the research study delivers evidence supporting the effectiveness of ESC. In conjunction with the Electronic Stability Control Coalition and the University of Iowa, the ESC study was implemented by employing the National Advanced Driving Simulator (NADS), which is owned by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). During the study, researchers at the University of Iowa were able to study drivers during true-to-life critical driving scenarios that would normally lead to a loss of control. "ESC is an active safety technology that can help a driver maintain control of the vehicle and reduces the danger of skidding and rollover accidents," said Wolfgang Drees, member of the board of management, Robert Bosch GmbH. "The results of this study reflect similar data from international observational studies that ESC does in fact help to save lives." Previous international observational studies — from Mercedes and Toyota — have shown that ESC could help prevent up to 50 percent of single-vehicle crashes. The University of Iowa's study compared driver performance during three selected loss-of-control scenarios — lane departure, curve departure, and wind gust — between two vehicles equipped with an ESC system and the same vehicles with the system off. The results show that vehicles equipped with ESC systems provide a significant safety benefit: 34 percent more drivers were able to maintain control of vehicles equipped with ESC than without ESC. First manufactured by Bosch in 1995, ESC — or electronic stability program (ESP) as it is called by Bosch — is a milestone in automotive safety. The company has produced more that 10 million ESP systems worldwide, and estimates approximately six percent of U.S. vehicles are equipped with ESP today. ESC is an active safety technology that uses microelectronics to help drivers maintain control of their vehicle and prevent crashes before they occur. The system detects when a driver is about to lose control of a vehicle and automatically intervenes to provide stability and help the driver stay on course. ESC is marketed under various trade names. "This research, the first hi-fidelity simulator-based analysis of driver response to vehicles with and without Electronic Stability Control, changes the automotive safety landscape," said University of Iowa researcher Dr. Yiannis Papelis, one of the leading researchers on the study. "Using the National Advanced Driving Simulator allowed us to observe human behavior and measure drivers' reactions in conditions that would be too dangerous to conduct in real life. The results found ESC can reduce the risk of losing control by as much as 88 percent, which equates to an increase of 34 percent in the number of drivers who maintained control of their vehicles with the ESC system activated." The ESC Coalition was established in 2003 to inform consumers and other key audiences about the benefits of ESC systems. It is a joint effort of two of the largest automotive technology suppliers, Robert Bosch Corporation and Continental Teves. Both companies are working together to increase the general awareness of this potentially life saving technology.
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