Posts made in July, 2015

Electronic Stability Control System: A Necessary SUV Device

Posted by on Jul 19, 2015 in Automobile Accidents | 0 comments

It was only in the 1990s when the number of injuries and deaths suddenly increased due to rollover accidents that the government looked into this type of road tragedy with deep concern. Coincidentally, this decade also witnessed an increase in the production of passenger vans and the introduction of SUVs, vehicles that were more spacious and which looked tougher than cars . . . but which were also the ones most prone to rollovers.

Any type of vehicle, which has a great tendency to oversteer (that is turn a bit farther or more sharply than intended, especially when managing a turn) or understeer (turn less sharply that intended), can rollover. However, those that have a taller design, a narrow track width (the distance between the left and right wheels), and a high ground clearance (or a center of gravity that is higher from the ground), such as passenger vans, pickups and SUVs, are much more susceptible to rollover than other automobiles due to their features that greatly reduce their stability and steering capacity. The risk of these vehicles tipping over also increases as weight of passengers and cargo is added to the vehicles.

Every year, more than 280,000 rollover accidents, which result to over 10,000 deaths and 24,000 serious injuries, are reported to the US Department of Transportation’s National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA). Rollover is actually listed as the second most common cause of death and grave injuries where road accident is the issue; head-on collision tops the list.

According to the NHTSA there are two factors that have consistently emerged in 75% of all fatal rollover crashes: vehicle speed above 55mph and an alcohol-intoxicated driver. Driving while drunk is already totally dangerous; doing it at fast speeds is nothing short of suicidal.

A speeding car, more so an SUV, can easily slide sideways after cornering too sharply. When this happens, it can possibly skid off the road and its tires trip on a curb, dig into soft or muddy soil, or hit a guardrail, resulting to a rollover. In another instance, it could be due to failure to remain upright while driving down a steep slope.

While drunk-driving, speeding, driver distraction, reckless driving, etc., can cause an SUV (or any other vehicle) to rollover, the NHTSA and car manufacturers see the real problem being this vehicle’s inability to remain stable. Though fixes and, worse, recalls were made, these seemed to have only resulted to: first, unsolved problems; and, second, millions of dollars in cost besides their (manufacturers’) blemished name.

In 1995 three giant car manufacturers, Mercedes-Benz, BMW and Toyota introduced what is now known as the Electronic Stability Control (ESC) system. ESC, otherwise referred to as dynamic stability control (DSC) or electronic stability program (ESP), is a computerized technological safety device designed to improve vehicle stability through detection and reduction of skidding or loss of traction. It actually consists of sensors that are able to sense loss of vehicle control. When loss of control occurs, ESC automatically applies brakes on each wheel to allow the driver to regain control of the vehicle and put it back on track. ESC also helps maintain vehicle stability during abrupt turns, eliminates any likelihood of oversteering and understeering, and improves traction and vehicle control on road shoulders, gravel patches and slippery or icy roads.

But while the ESC may be able to help reduce possibilities of rollover accidents, negligence, resulting to a defective ESC device or vehicle design, a side collision because the driver of the other vehicle that hit you was drunk or distracted, or too much road debris or unmaintained road, will not.

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