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Electronic Stability Control

Electronic Stability Control

Electronic stability control

ESC - three letters that can save your life

These days the emphasis in vehicle safety development is on electronic systems that can help prevent an accident happening rather than on measures to reduce the severity of injuries when one does occur. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) was one of the first, and most effective, and will have to be fitted as standard on all new cars from 2014.

Anti-lock braking systems have been around for a couple of decades or more and help maintain maximum braking effort and full steering control in an emergency, without skidding. ESC builds on the capability of anti-lock brakes and makes use of some of the same sensors and braking components.

Euro NCAP ratings explained

Euro NCAP ratings improved

Euro NCAP was set up by European consumer organisations in 1997 to provide independent crash-test assessments of popular cars. Its aim was to inform buyers which cars protect occupants best in typical crash situations, helping them to choose a safer car.

Since then, Euro NCAP spurred a revolution in the levels of crash protection, as car makers competed to make the safest cars.

The scheme led to poorly performing models being withdrawn from sale (especially in the early days) and, by 2007, the vast majority of new cars were achieving four or five stars for adult occupant protection. So, to prompt further innovation, it was time to raise the bar...

A more balanced Euro NCAP test

Car makers were targeting their efforts at achieving the high profile five-star rating for adult occupant protection – and often used this to promote their cars to buyers.

However, that ‘headline’ rating didn’t account for all aspects of a car’s safety, such as how well it protects child occupants, how ‘pedestrian friendly’ it is, how well it protects against serious spinal injuries (whiplash) and how good the car’s support systems are at helping the driver to avoid a crash in the first place.

So the Euro NCAP rating system was altered in 2009, in order to encourage manufacturers to improve all such elements of car safety and give a more balanced view.

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