Ergonomics and Crash Avoidance Division
ESC (Electronic Stability Control) is a crash avoidance technology that reduces the likelihood of collisions involving loss of control. Although past and emerging research indicates that ESC is effective in reducing collision rates and saving lives, and its inclusion in all vehicle platforms is encouraged, drivers may demonstrate an over-reliance on ESC that could offset or reduce its overall effectiveness, a phenomenon known as 'behavioural adaptation'.
Two separate telephone surveys evaluated drivers' perceptions and awareness of ESC. The first surveyed 500 randomly selected owners/drivers of passenger vehicles. The second surveyed 1017 owners/drivers of 2006-2008 ESC-equipped passenger vehicles. While ESC drivers were much more likely than drivers of other vehicles to be aware of ESC (77% vs. 39%) and whether their own vehicle was ESC-equipped (63% vs. 8%), 23% had never heard of it. Ninety percent of drivers who knew that their vehicle was equipped with ESC believed that ESC had made it safer to drive, and reported being confident that ESC would work in an emergency. Twenty-three percent of ESC owners who knew their vehicle was equipped with ESC reported noticing long-lasting changes in their driving behaviour since they began driving the vehicle.
Collectively, results indicate that Canadian drivers remain largely unaware of ESC and its potential benefits to road safety. Results also suggest that behavioural adaptation to ESC may occur, but will be more likely in certain groups of drivers, including men, younger drivers, and those with less than a university education. If it occurs, behavioural adaptation to ESC will likely be manifest by drivers driving faster, being more likely to drive in adverse weather conditions, driving faster in adverse weather conditions, and driving in a more aggressive manner. While these anticipated changes in driver behaviour are of concern, ESC's proven effectiveness in reducing the likelihood of being involved in a serious crash outweighs any potential increases in unsafe driving due to behavioural adaptation. Nevertheless, to allow the full intended safety benefits of ESC to reach consumers, vehicle manufacturers are encouraged to market ESC-equipped vehicles in a responsible, safe, and realistic manner. Driver training and safety organizations are also encouraged to provide balanced educational information regarding ESC to their students.
How to get the full report:
The full report on the ESC (Electronic Stability Control) Public and Driver Surveys (1.2 MB) is available in a printable format.
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