Researchers at the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimate that electronic stability control (ESC) reduces the risk of fatal multiple-vehicle crashes by 32% and fatal single-vehicle by 56%. ESC, an extension of antilock brake technology, is designed to help drivers retain control of their vehicles during high-speed maneuvers or on slippery roads. IIHS said that if all vehicles were equipped with ESC, as many as 10,000 fatal crashes could be avoided each year.
"ESC should be standard on all vehicles," said Susan Ferguson, IIHS senior vice president for research. "Very few safety technologies show this kind of large effect in reducing crash deaths.
"ESC is standard on 40% of 2006 passenger vehicle models and optional on another 15%. The technology is standard on all 2006 Audi, BMW, Infiniti, Mercedes and Porsche vehicles. The technology is available on 25% or fewer models from Chevrolet, Dodge, Ford, Hummer, Mazda, Mitsubish, Saturn, Subaru and Suzuki.IIHS said the percentage of SUV models with standard ESC has been growing faster than for cars. ESC costs between $300 and $800 as a stand-alone option, but can cost more than $2,000 on some models when packaged with other equipment.