ESC and Driver Adaptation
NHTSA has predicted that electronic stability control “would save 5,300 to 9,600 lives and prevent 156,000 to 238,000 injuries in all types of crashes annually once all light vehicles on the road are equipped with ESC.”
This article brings up a few of the reasons why that estimate — as with previous technological interventions — might be high (even if there is still a net safety gain). One of the operative questions is how aware people are of the presence of ESC, and whether they can actually feel its effects, and what new problems owing to unintended consequences might arise.
But not everyone sees stability control as a cure-all that will prevent all road crashes.
Independent stability control development specialist Graeme Gambold says that while he supports the rolling out of the system, there are drawbacks. One is the dumbing down of drivers who increasingly are relying on technology to get them out of fixes.
“With the new regulation calling for every car to be equipped with [stability control], I worry that skill deprivation is not an issue in the minds of governments,” Gambold says. “Yet this is the great killer on our roads. You’ve still got to be smart and still need a high level of skill to drive a motor car but authorities seem to think that there is a technological fix for the road toll.”
Gambold says stability control is only as good as a vehicle’s grip on the road. “It’s not as effective on more slippery surfaces such as ice, snow and on gravel,” he says. “Any number of environmental factors – crowned roads, potholes and broken road edges – can reduce its effectiveness.”
Another shortfall of stability control systems is that they will only try to control the car in the direction of your steering command.
“Turning the wheel into the slide can tell the system its task has finished and it may cease its assistance,” Gambold says.
This entry was posted on Monday, November 23rd, 2009 at 9:17 am and is filed under Traffic safety. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.