Electronic Stability Control (ESC) are three words which could save your life, and we should all be aware of what this technology can do and whether it is available in our new car of choice.
I was fortunate enough to attend a demonstration day at Rockingham Speedway this week, to experience ESC first hand. All attendees were driven in a car and a van on a skid pan with and without active ESC and the difference was startling. The science behind the technology is that the car automatically brakes the car’s four wheels individually when it identifies that the car is about to go into a skid. It is not the same as ABS, which has been around for many years. It does much more and is very well explained by Bosch (the technology’s designers) and the Choose ESC campaign, both of which are well worth a look.
Once you have decided that you want to have ESC on your new vehicle, how do you go about it? This is where the figures are quite startling as many new cars in the UK are being sold with lower levels of safety equipment fitted as standard than cars sold in Latvia and Lithuania (See: RAC Foundation press release). Road crashes could be reduced by more than 20 per cent, especially in wet or icy conditions, by cars being fitted with Electronic Stability Control (ESC), yet just 55% of new cars sold it the UK fit ESC as standard as opposed to 76% in Denmark, and 65% in Latvia and Lithuania.
In the UK it is estimated that if 90% of cars were fitted with ESC it would save 400 lives and prevent 3,000 serious injuries each year (Thatcham). Europe wide it could save 4,000 lives and 100,000 serious accidents. So when buying a new car it is well worth giving some consideration to ESC. Many cars offer ESC as an optional extra, normally costing around £300, which may ultimately be a better choice than cosmetic extras such as alloy wheels or the latest sound system.
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