Electronic Stability Control Saves Lives


Over 40 lives could have been saved on Victorian roads last year if the cars involved had been fitted with Electronic Stability Control.

Researchers from The Transport Accident Commission (TAC), Monash University Accident Research Centre and the Swedish Transport Administration studied the impact of Electronic Stability Control (ESC) in all fatal crashes involving lane departures.

Of the 291 deaths on Victorian roads last year, 41 were found to be preventable if the vehicle involved had functioning ESC.

The study found that some cars fitted with ESC even had the life-saving feature turned off at the time of the crash, a finding that TAC Lead Director Road Safety Samantha Cockfield finds concerning.

“Features like ESC intervene at that critical moment and can turn a potentially fatal mistake into a bit of a fright for the people inside the car,” she said.

“If you are buying a used car, I would encourage you to insist on ESC and side curtain airbags as an absolute minimum because these features can really save lives.”

ESC works as an extension of existing anti-lock braking systems (ABS) and traction control technology by helping to stabilise the vehicle when it changes direction in a way not intended by the driver.

The use of intelligent sensors allows ESC to selectively brake individual wheels and reduce engine torque to bring the vehicle back onto its natural course.

Victorian vehicles with a plate date from 2011 onwards are required to have ESC fitted, with data from the Australian Bureau of Statistics showing the technology is currently present on 31 per cent of registered cars.

Earlier research from the TAC found 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%
  • Single 4WD crashes in which the driver was injured by 66%

“People make mistakes on our roads but no one should die because of those mistakes – that’s why the cars we drive and the safety features in them are so important,” said Minister for Roads and Road Safety Luke Donnellan.

“Our cars – like our travel speeds and our choices – play an important role in keeping people safe on our roads and moving Towards Zero.”