9/2/2011 11:34 AM ET|
Best safety advance since seat belts
Electronic stability control is now standard on every new car -- and experts expect it to save thousands of lives.
You are driving down a lonely back road.
Your car hits a patch of black ice and begins to slide out of control. As you struggle to remember what to do, the car takes over, stops the slide and prevents you from slipping off the road.
This is not the future. Electronic stability control already prevents thousands of accidents a year, and beginning Sept. 1, it became standard on every new car built for sale in America.
Experts everywhere agree that ESC saves lives. Insurance companies offer a discount for vehicles so equipped. The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety estimates that if every vehicle on the road had ESC, fatal accidents would be reduced by 10,000 per year. Its 2010 study found that ESC reduces fatal crash involvement on average 33% -- a 20% reduction for multiple-vehicle crashes and 49% for single-car crashes.
It is a game-changing technology.
David Champion, the director of automotive testing at Consumer Reports, says, "If you are looking at the best ways to prevent deaths, seat belts are still No. 1, ESC is a close second and air bags are a distant third."
ESC is very effective at preventing rollovers
ESC has proved to be extremely effective at preventing rollovers in both SUVs and passenger cars. IIHS research shows that ESC can reduce the risk of fatal single-vehicle rollovers by 75% for SUVs and 72% for cars.
Federal research concurs. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that ESC can prevent 85% of SUV rollovers and 64% of car rollovers.
"Drivers of SUVs are now among the least likely to die in crashes," says Russ Rader, spokesman at IIHS. "This is a big change from just a few years ago."
Many experts think that ESC is even more important for teen drivers. If you have teen drivers in the house, putting them in an ESC-equipped car will not only save money on car insurance, but it may possibly save their lives.
"Excessive speed and loss of control are two of the biggest factors in teen accidents," Champion notes. "ESC helps them with both of these factors."
Champion is so impressed with ESC that he predicts that the eventual transition of all teens into ESC-equipped cars will bring up to a 60% reduction in fatal teen accidents.
How ESC prevents auto accidents
How does ESC work? A microcomputer monitors signals from sensors, checking 25 times a second whether the steering input correctly corresponds to the direction that the car is moving. When it detects the vehicle moving in the wrong direction, it immediately reacts, strategically applying the brakes and reducing engine torque to put the car back on the desired path.
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I like these technological advancements to assist the driver; however, the best safety feature for accident avoidance is the driver. So, in my estimation, the best way to help avoid collisions is to educate the driver.
I believe that a driver re-education course should be required for all drivers to renew their license every other time they renew it. That's not so often that it is over burdensome or expensive, but it's probably often enough to remind people how to handle road situations and even just remind them of the regular stuff such as that extra thing on their steering column most seem to ignore...TURN SIGNAL!!! But, all joking aside, we all get into habits and even the most diligent of us don't develop every habit properly for any number of reasons, and it would be helpful for someone to point those things out to us.
Here are some more safety features that every car should have. Drivers' who know how to slow down when the roads get excessively wet, icy, snow packed. Drivers who know how to obey traffic construction zone warning signs to slow down. Drivers who know proper following distance. Drivers who use turn signal indicators at least 100 feet before making a turn or lane change where the posted speed limit is under 40 MPH. Driver's who use turn signals indicators at least 1000 to exit the interstate on major highway where the speed limit is posted 45 MPH or more. Drivers who refuse to answer or make cell phone calls while they are driving in the flow of traffic but wait and pull off the road way to answer calls. Drivers who don't eat, drink hot coffee, put on lip stick, put on make up, read books, read magazine, primp in the rear view mirror, or try to have oral sex when driving. Cars should have driver's who come to a complete stop at a red signal light and come to a completed stop at a red signal light before turning right on red. Cars need drivers who don't get drunk or use drugs before, or during the time they are driving. Cars don't need drivers who have a revoked or suspended driver's license. Cars don't need road rage drivers who cuss and swear at other drivers. Cars don't need drivers who threaten other people with guns or other weapons on the road way. Finally if everyone does their part their is no need for 30000 to 50000 people to die or be injured in auto accidents in this country every year. We have got to stop making excuses for poor drivers and those who do not need to be behind the wheel of a vehicle. Gun makers continue to make safer guns by putting more gadgets on them. Key cable locks, internal locks, fingerprint id decoders and double safeties of all kinds. People still kill other people with guns or claim that the gun went off accidentally. It is very difficult to make a modern gun of any type accidentally discharge unless some home self-confessed gunsmith that does not know s--t from shinola has been fooling around the mechanics of a firearm. Cars don't kill people. Self center stupid people abruptly changing lanes, talking on cell phones and not paying attention kill people in cars. ECS will not stop you from getting killed or your vehicle from rolling over if you try to drive 50 mph on a rain soaked highway or try to turn on a icy glass roadway. Cars need people who exercise common sense when operating a vehicle more than any safety feature that the maker can add on.
Cell phone use and Taxing. This is a pat pave of mine. I once had a ex friend who told me that she texts and use or cell phone all the time while driving. She told me that she even uses it while driving during rush hour Atlanta traffic. Now if you never been to Atlanta during rush hour the traffic is similar to Dallas, Fort worth, the 101, and the 105. She went on to explain how she evens puts on her make up while driving if she is running late. I stupidly asked her why didn't see do what a reasonable responsible person would do. Why doesn't she delay using the cell phone until reaching her destination. Why not use common sense set her alarm clock earlier to get her butt out of bed so she would not be running late. Why is she selfishly putting other peoples live in danger by using her cell phone for B.S. early in the morning. She angrily explained that she had the capability to multi-task while driving. I wanting to make a point. I bet her that we could sit and watch a movie of her choice but if her cell phone rang she had to answer it and conduct a regular conversation as she would while driving. But she had to stay in the same room with the movie going and she had to pay attention to both the phone conversation and what was going on in the movie. She had to multi-task! Well, her cell phone rang about four to six times and she talked to whomever. At the end of the movie I asked her how did she enjoy the movie. She said that she enjoyed it very much because it was her favorite movie and she had seen it before. The devil made me do it so I just had to asked her some specifics of some scenes in the movie and what the characters said. Needless to say she could not tell me. Now you know that devil is not going to let this opportunity get away to be the devils advocate so I said now you are going to tell me that you can drive on the highway while talking on your cell phone with all those other idiot cell phone users during rush hour safety. but yet you can't even get the scene dialog correct or views of a movie correct in a movie while talking on your cell phone? Needless to say she is not my friend anymore and I doubt if she has stopped using her cell phone when driving. Now if you have a friend like that play the same game with them but have them text also. Better yet rent one of those driving x-box games and have them do it.
Law makers know that cell phone use and taxing is dangerous while driving but they do not want to piss anyone off because they want to get re-elected. They want to continue to make excuses and make more cell phone gadgets mandatory. No gadget can replace being attentive and aware while driving. If you ride in a vehicle with a person that is using a cell phone I suggest you try the above game on them. You are putting your life in the hands of a person who's phone conversations are more important than his or her life and yours. Remember neither you or i or anyone else is that important that we have to talk to them while driving , eating dinner in a public place, or movie. We may selfishly think we are the cats meow and Gods gifts to the world but we really are not. Cell phone use in cars, more safety features on cars and guns just make us more selfish. They give us an excuse to deny responsiblity for for actions and to place the blame on other people or things. The world doesn't change. The people aroung us everyday get more in love with themselves, self-centered and selfish. The sad thing is that we have not seen anything yet. It will get worse!
I would be a bit cautious in making this claim about stability control. I recall that it was expected that anti-lock brakes would reduce accidents but that didn’t happen, and they still don’t know why.
Also, they promoted center mounted tail lights as a remedy for rear end collisions. After all, studies confirmed this, they said. The problem was that the studies were conducted when center mounted tail lights were so rare as to be a novelty. When they proliferated and all cars had them, their effectiveness was reduced to near zero.
Traction control is a great option to have for the average driver but it definitely should not be mandatory on all vehicles. Or if it is there should at least be the option to turn it off. Somehow I doubt they will give us that option though. Anyway the problem with traction control, from the standpoint of the professional driver at least, is that not only does it make the car less fun to drive, but it some instances it can actually make the car less safe. I personally avoided at least one accident that I could not have avoided had the car had traction control. This is NOT true for anti-lock brakes though so I’m not sure what "T" is complaining about in his post. Anti-lock brakes do NOT at all affect maneuvering ability; they only allow you to stop in the shortest distance possible. You see when the average person is about to hit something he will slam on the brakes, which, prior to ABS, would cause the wheels to lock up (stop turning), and the car would skid to a stop. The problem is, this is not the fastest way to stop a car. Maximum braking force occurs at the moment just before the wheel would lock up yet the are still turning. Race drivers can do this the same as or even better than ABS but the average driver cannot therefore ABS is always better if working properly. Also if our Mr. T wants to do 180’s from speed or other stunts he can still use the e-brake or down shift and drop the clutch quickly while turning, ABS or not. With traction control though it will not allow you to use the throttle to add some controlled over-steer to get out of a tricky situation. Of course it will definitely save lives so I’m all for it as long as there is an "off" switch.
Low center of gravity trumps ESC. Where singledad777 may have had an electric nanny that prevented a loss of control, a few years back, our Subaru Legacy, with its all-aluminum flat-4 engine and center of gravity that is about 3" lower than competitor's I-4-equipped car of similar size saved our lives when a Trans Am driver fell asleep and nearly rammed a horse trailer overnight on a Phx freeway. He realized what was about to happen and pulled left at the last minute, then right, overcorrecting. The car ended up loosing all traction and drifted around and ahead of the horse trailer on the left, finally gaining friction and ramming the trailer at the front where its tow hitch was. This sent the truck and trailer rolling in opposite directions. I was right behind all the action, and after viewing all this in pure amazement, I suddenly realized
I was heading right into the MIDDLE of it all! Slam the brakes, aim and pray is all I had time to do. The Sube, even though it was nose down went exactly where I directed it like it was held to the road by magnets. OTOH, if I was driving anything tall or with a good amount of ground clearance, the only thing keeping us upright would have been ESC. I'll keep my low-slung cars anyway, thank you.
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