Life-saving technology now standard on new cars
According to a recent AAA study, car crashes cost $300 billion a year, and the human cost is even greater. Experts at Consumer Reports say a technology known as electronic stability control can dramatically lower the chances of a person dying in a car accident. But until this year, not all vehicles were equipped with the safety feature - it was often offered as an upgrade. So does your car have ESC? Here's how to find out. Plus, see the technology in action.
>> Sumi Das: Car accidents are the number one cause of death for American teenagers. The experts at Consumer Reports say that many of these deaths could be prevented with the help of a simple safety feature.
>> If all parents of teens had their children drive a car with electronic stability control, we could drastically reduce the number of teen deaths every year.
>> Sumi Das: Studies find that stability control cuts fatalities in single vehicle crashes almost in half, and in multi-car accidents by 20%. Deaths from single vehicle rollovers fall 75%. 2012 is the first model year that all cars must come equipped with electronic stability control. Until recently, it was only a standard feature on expensive vehicles.
>> Stability control is a system that works with the brakes and the steering to keep the vehicle in line in an emergency situation. What happens is if the car starts to slide out of control, it will apply a brake to one or more wheels, bringing the car back into line.
>> Sumi Das: When this car swerves, even the professional driver behind the wheel can't regain control. Now here is the same car, traveling at the same speed, but with the electronic stability control turned on. Unfortunately, there are a lot of used cars out there that don't have the safety feature. And these are the cars that many teenagers drive. Figuring out if your teen's car has stability control may be harder than it seems.
>> There's numerous different names that the manufacturers would give electronic stability control, from stabilitrac phonetic, advance track phonetic, ESP, ES -- ESC which is a common one, DSC, DSTC -- all these different names that the manufacturers would give it as a marketing reason. From 2012 model year it has to be called ESC.
>> Sumi Das: If your car is equipped with electronic stability control, you should see a corresponding light on the dash. You could also check your owner's manual. For Smart Planet, I'm Sumi Das.