What Exactly is Electronic Stability Control?

With Holden’s announcement last week that it would introduce Electronic Stability Control to it’s next Commodore range the Australian motoring public were exposed to some interesting technology has the potential to save a lot of lives.

Aussie Motoring sent feature writer – Russ Egan – out into the World Wide Web to find out just what Electronic Stability Control really is and here is his report.

Electronic Stability Control (ESC) will soon be introduced into the new range of Holden Commodores. This is a major step forward in safety and driver control because ESC allows the vehicle’s computer to adjust the braking and power distribution to counter over and under-steering. Although ESC is not a new technology, its placement in mid range cars has boosted the levels of safety for all drivers.

ESC is the generic term for all systems designed to improve a vehicle’s handling, especially at times when danger could occur. Bosch first developed this technology in their Electronic Stability Program (ESP) which was used by BMW and Mercedes-Benz in 1995. Since then it has been made available to the mass market, and is now available from many different car manufacturers.

Each vehicle manufacturer uses Electronic Stability Control under a different name, as ESC is simply the generic term. Ford have their Interactive Vehicle Dynamics (IVD), Mitsubishi have Active Skid and Traction Control MULTIMODE, and Holden have just introduced their Electronic Stability Program.

For a more detailed look into the different names, look through this list from Wikipedia.

ESC looks into the driver aids intended direction and braking input and compares it with the acceleration and individual wheel speeds. It then either brakes specific wheels or reduces/increases the power, which helps to correct over and under-steering.

It uses sensors to detect when the driver has lost control of the vehicle, and then uses anti-lock brakes and traction control to prevent wheel lock and wheel spin. This is extremely important to the safety of all the passengers in the vehicle, as sudden obstacles can cause the driver to hit the brakes at very high speeds. By introducing this technology, drivers gain more control in dangerous situations.

ESC tests the drivers control continuously, and then if problems are found, intervenes instantly. By maintaining the driver’s control of the vehicle, accidents are far less likely to occur. When a driver undergoes a high speed stop, or if the wheels begin to spin, then the microcomputer activates automatic braking, and reduces the throttle to help control the vehicle.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety has recently conducted in-depth research into the effectiveness of Electronic Stability Control, and their results have been promising:

Electronic stability control could prevent nearly one-third of all fatal crashes and reduce rollover risk by as much as 80%

Their research confirms that ESC reduces the cases of single car accidents. They estimate that up to 10,000 fatal crashes could be avoided and that is a dramatic decrease in road deaths. Electronic Stability Control could and should be used in all vehicles to further decrease the likelihood of deaths from car accidents.

Electronic Stability Control is a breakthrough in vehicle safety, and its introduction into the new range of Commodores gives even more control to the average driver. The introduction of more safety devices is also a benefit and with ESC this has never been greater.

What Exactly is Electronic Stability Control?
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