Anti-Rollover Systems Reduce Risk of Fatal Crashes

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) released a study in August which determined that anti-rollover technology reduces the risk of a fatal crash by 18 percent. The NHTSA said the technology cut overall car crashes by six percent. For passenger cars, the risk of fatal crashes fell 23 percent and 20 percent for light trucks and vans. The government study was based on a review of crash data from 1997 through 2009.

Electronic Stability Control

The technology has been available for decades; Mercedes and BMW first used it in 1987. However, like airbags before it, the use of electronic stability control (ESC) was initially very limited, and only after NHTSA issued formal regulations did automakers make ESC widely available. ESC systems use automatic computer-controlled braking of individual wheels to prevent the wheels from skidding and to help the driver maintain control of the vehicle.

Rollover crashes are frequently caused by the vehicle leaving the road surface. A rollover can be triggered by tire skidding on the asphalt road surface suddenly coming in contact with the gravel or grass of the shoulder. Rollovers accidents are deadly because they often eject the occupants. A 2004 study by NHTSA estimated that ESC reduced fatalities in single-vehicle crashes by 30 percent for passenger cars and 63 percent for SUVs.

ESC technology has not been fully implemented and is not available on all models. However, when fully implemented, the agency estimates that ESC could save between 5,300 and 10,300 lives annually and prevent between 168,000 and 252,000 injuries.