There are myriad technologies that have had a huge impact on vehicle safety over the last few decades. The introduction of anti-lock brakes was one particular development that has gone on to be fitted on nearly every new car, van or truck sold.
Another innovation, electronic stability control (ESC), has been following close behind, but due to its computing complexity, has not quite seen the uptake that other systems have. However, that is due to change on New Zealand's roads as it is set to be mandatory for all new passenger and goods vehicles to have ESC fitted.
ESC features a network of sensors around a vehicle that can detect losses of control.
"This measure will improve safety on our roads and fits with the government's road safety strategy, Safer Journeys, which seeks to improve all aspects of the system, including safer vehicles," explained the Ministry of Transport's land transport safety manager Leo Mortimer.
How does it work?
While the government clearly sees the benefits of ESC, how does the system actually work?
Well, in short, it features a network of sensors around the vehicle that can detect when skidding – or any other loss of control – is taking place, and can subsequently intervene to correct the situation.
The system includes everything from yaw rate sensors to devices that feedback information about the position of the steering wheel and the ferocity of inputs, according to research collated by Jalopnik.
This video from CarAdvice shows the benefits of using ESC, especially when conditions are far from ideal:
Reducing the risk
For fleet managers in particular, any system that can put drivers at less risk out on the open road will be welcomed. While equipping them with the best car, van or truck for the job and giving them a fuel card to fill it up is one thing, their safety should always come first.
To that end, Thatcham Research found that ESC can reduce the risk of having a fatal accident by around 25 per cent. Moreover, ESC also lowers the risk of accident due to skidding or spinning by a massive 59 per cent when the system is engaged.
The first step
As alluded to, ESC is not yet standard on all new light vehicles imported for sale across New Zealand just yet, but it will be soon.
"By 2020, ESC will be mandatory for all new and used light passenger and goods vehicles imported into New Zealand," said Mr Mortimer.
While it may not be a legality yet, there can be little denying that choosing a vehicle fitted with ESC offers a plethora of benefits for both individuals and fleet purchasers alike.