A test method for evaluating safety aspects of ESC equipped passenger cars: a prototype proposal

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Håkan Andersson
Jerker Sundström

Active safety systems are becoming increasingly common in today's vehicles. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) systems were introduced during the end of the 1990s, and accident statistics show that they have had a huge impact on traffic safety. In the USA, a new legislation has recently been adopted which demands on every new light vehicle that is sold to be equipped with ESC, beginning 2011. New systems require new testing methods, and there is a need expressed by the New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), which at present time only evaluates the passive safety of cars, also to include tests for active safety systems. In a previous VTI work, a literature review regarding methods for the evaluation of traffic safety effects of Antilock Braking Systems (ABS) and ESC was performed. Based on the findings of that review, we have proceeded with defining a test method for evaluating safety aspects of ESC equipped passenger cars. The objective has been to suggest a (prototype) test method that can be used for a more holistic evaluation of the safety effect of ESC in cars, including the driver behaviour perspective. From discussions with leading experts on traffic safety and ESC, possible benefits of ESC systems on traffic safety were identified. In addition to increasing the yaw stability of the vehicle, the following ESC benefit effects were identified: - A warning system for slippery roads. ESC activation indication may act as a warning system to the driver about slippery road conditions. - Reduced collision speed. In a critical situation, ESC activation may reduce the collision speed, which will mitigate the outcome of the collision. - Improved vehicle roll stability. The ESC system may also stabilise the vehicle with respect to untripped rollovers. Most rollovers are however tripped rollovers, which can occur when a vehicle, with some lateral slip, strikes an object or slides off the road. These rollovers also benefit from the ESC system as it aids in keeping the vehicle on the road.

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