A new study from the insurance industry finds that electronic stability control systems in cars and trucks significantly reduce the risk of certain types of crashes.
Vehicles with stability control systems, which consist of sensors that can automatically apply brakes or reduce engine power to prevent loss of driver control, are 41 percent less likely to get into single-vehicle crashes, the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said in a study to be released today. Drivers also are 41 percent less likely to be injured in single-vehicle crashes when using such systems, the institute found.
The institute, based in Arlington and funded by auto insurance companies, studied crash data from seven states over a two-year period. It found that vehicles equipped with stability control were 7 percent less likely to be involved in any kind of crash, and that the systems were especially good at preventing single-vehicle accidents.
That's important, the institute said, because nearly a third of all U.S. crashes are single-vehicle incidents, and nearly 60 percent of fatal crashes involve only one vehicle, according to government statistics. Many such crashes involve sport-utility vehicles or pickup trucks that roll over because of high centers of gravity, and electronic stability control can help lessen that risk, the study said.
"From our viewpoint, electronic stability control seems to be a very effective way to reduce single-vehicle crashes," the institute's senior vice president for research, Susan Ferguson, said. "Certainly, were I buying a car today I would consider trying to get electronic stability control. From a safety standpoint, it's a good investment."
Such systems are offered as options costing several hundred dollars on most vehicles and come standard on an increasing number, especially high-end performance vehicles such as those bearing the BMW, Audi and Mercedes brands. Only about 10 percent of all vehicle purchasers select stability control as an option, the institute said in its study.
The study's results echo those of several others in recent years, including preliminary testing being done by the government's National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.