“Electronic stability control (ESC)”
ELECTRONIC Stability Control (ESC) helps drivers to avoid crashes by reducing the danger of skidding, or losing control as a result of over-steering. ESC becomes active when a driver loses control of their car. It uses computer controlled technology to apply individual brakes and help bring the car safely back on track, without the danger of fish-tailing.
Why should someone require it after all? Research shows that ESC reduces the risk of: Single car crashes by 25%, Single 4WD crashes by 51%, Single car crashes in which the driver was injured by 28% and Single 4WD crashes in which the driver was injured by 66%. No other active safety device has such potential to reduce single car crashes.
How does ESC work? ESC works by using a number of intelligent sensors that detect any loss of control and automatically apply the brake to the relevant wheel, putting your car back on the intended path. ESC is of assistance to the driver in cases like; correcting impending over-steering or under-steering; stabilising the car during sudden evasive manoeuvres; enhancing handling on gravel patches, such as road shoulders; and Improving traction on slippery or icy roads.
Not all ESC systems are identical. The hardware is similar, but there are variations in how ESC systems are programmed to respond once loss of control is detected. Naturally, the degree of effectiveness of ESC is dependent upon the amount of traction between the road and the car. Therefore on a car with old, worn or inappropriate tyres (e.g.: non winter tyres on ice and snow), ESC will be less effective than on a car with new tyres or tyres specific to a road environmental condition.
That said and done, how popular is ESC? ESC technology has been adopted rapidly by Australian manufacturers and importers – particularly as Victoria had mandated that all new cars registered from January 2011 had to be fitted with ESC. This mandate came into effect almost one year ahead of the rest of Australia and also Europe and America. Fitment of ESC has grown enormously since 2004, with the fitment rate increasing from around 12% in 2004 to 76% in early 2011. The highest rate of ESC fitment is in Sweden with a fitment rate of around 96%. Before you choose your next car, be sure to look for models with ESC.
Is ESC different to Antilock Braking (ABS) and Traction Control? ABS and Traction control are integral components of an ESC system. Whilst every car with ESC has ABS and Traction Control, those with ABS and Traction control do not necessarily have ESC. ABS and Traction Control only work in the driving (longitudinal) direction. ESC can help drivers to cope with sideways (lateral) movements which create instability. Unlike ABS and Traction Control, ESC is a holistic system that can control a car’s entire movements. There is no need training to drive a car with ESC, those who manufacture these systems say that ESC supports the driver but does not require changes to skill levels or driving styles.