Electronic stability control systems dramatically reduce the number of single-vehicle crashes, according to a preliminary study released on September 30 by federal safety regulators, according to the Detroit News. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration said the technology is particularly effective in reducing accidents involving sport utility vehicles, which are more prone to roll over. After studying more than 22,100 crashes, the agency said electronic stability control reduced single vehicle crashes in passenger cars by 35 percent when compared to the same models sold in prior years without the technology. Among SUVs equipped with the feature, single vehicle crashes were reduced by 67 percent, based on a study of 600 crashes. "This technology appears to provide safety benefits by reducing the number of crashes due to driver error and loss of control because it has the potential to anticipate situations leading up to some crashes before they occur and automatically intervene to assist the driver," the study said. Last year, 16,621 people died in single vehicle crashes, NHTSA said. Electronic stability control relies on sensors to detect, among other things, when a wheel leaves the pavement. It improves a vehicle's lateral stability by combining the attributes of antilock brakes and traction control to help a driver avoid a crash. The agency has stopped short of mandating the device become standard equipment, but wants automakers to voluntarily offer it. In 2003, 7.4 percent of cars and light vehicles were sold with the electronic stability control, the agency said. Once reserved for luxury models, automakers are equipping more models with the technology as costs and prices for the feature drop. General Motors Corp. says electronic stability control and other safety features will be offered on more models over the next six years. "Our whole fleet will be pretty well-equipped with that kind of equipment by 2010," Robert Lange, GM's top safety executive, said earlier this week.

Originally posted on Fleet Financials