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Electronic Stability Control: Is it a Safety Feature You Really Need?

One of the earliest modern safety features developed by car makers was the anti-lock braking (ABS) system. Today, however, newer automobiles are often equipped with a more advanced feature called electronic stability control (ESC). This addition builds on the concept of anti-lock brakes and provides a different type of safety.

What Electronic Stability Control Does

Anti-lock brakes assist the driver during circumstances in which braking proves difficult. The system prevents brakes from locking up and causing a skid when driving on slick road surfaces.  Anti-lock brakes also prevent the steering wheel from locking up, allowing the driver to continue to steer out of trouble. ABS often come in handy during inclement weather when braking becomes tough and dangerous. Drivers know the system has engaged by feeling a pulsing sensation.

Electronic stability control adds onto that notion by providing even more assistance during the braking process. ESC measures the driver’s steering input against the car’s yaw angle, which is the rotation about the vertical axis, and traction at the wheels. If differences between the yaw angle and the traction at the wheels exist, the brakes are applied automatically to a wheel or wheels, which steers the vehicle in the intended direction. Furthermore, if needed, the engine throttle is also lowered to cease power skids and allow the brakes to do their job.

When Electronic Stability Control Is Needed

Electronic stability control can help drivers in a variety of different situations. However, they are most often effective when a driver attempts to perform a difficult maneuver, such as those that are often employed when attempting to avoid accidents. The result of these drastic measures can result in pushing the vehicle near the limits of road traction, and loss of control of the vehicle, including:

  • Spinning out. When a car turns too quickly, often while speeding or traveling on slick roads, the car often begins to slide, which is known as “spinning out.” The rear of the vehicle begins to lose control, and the car can start to turn and spin uncontrollably. As you may imagine, this can result in dangerous and injury-causing collisions. The ESC can detect that the vehicle’s direction is changing more quickly than what is appropriate for the driver’s intended direction. To compensate for this, it will apply the appropriate brake in an effort to alter the direction of the vehicle back to the correct path.
  • Plowing out. Also known as oversteering, plowing out occurs when the front of a vehicle begins to slide during a sharp turn. This aggressive action can cause a vehicle to lose control and ultimately crash into other vehicles or run off of the road. Again, the ESC can detect that the vehicle’s direction is changing less quickly than appropriate for the driver’s intended direction and will apply the brake in an effort to alter the direction of the vehicle back to the correct path.

ESC comes to the rescue in many of these situations by preventing the heading from changing too quickly, which results in spinning out, or not quickly enough, ending in plowing out. Although the system cannot increase the amount of available traction, it can maximize the possibility of keeping the vehicle under control and on the road during these maneuvers by using the driver’s natural reaction of steering in the intended direction.

ESC engages quickly, far quicker than it would take for a driver to attempt to compensate for the error themselves. Even if drivers do attempt to brake, the system is still able to generate the appropriate type of braking needed to correct the situation.

ESC Can’t Prevent All Accidents From Happening

Even if, despite your best efforts and the help of electronic stability control, you find yourself the victim of an accident, it is important to know that you have rights. It’s also essential to know that you have a team of attorneys who will fight for them. The law offices of Wayne Wright will do what it can to help you receive the compensation that you deserve. Contact us today by calling 800.237.3334 or complete our online form to find out how we can help.