Car drivers’ perceptions of electronic stability control (ESC) systems

Publisher's full text
Mats Wiklund

As a way to reduce the number of car crashes different in-car safety devices are being introduced. In this paper one such application is being investigated, namely the electronic stability control system (ESC). The study used a survey method, including 2000 private car drivers (1000 driving a car with ESC and 1000 driving a car without ESC). The main objective was to investigate the effect of ESC on driver behaviour. Results show that drivers report that they drive even more carelessly when they believe that they have ESC, than when they do not. Men are more risk prone than women and young drivers more than older drivers. Using the theory of planned behaviour the results show that attitude, subjective norm and perceived control explain between 62% and 67% of driver’s variation of intentions to take risks. When descriptive norm was added to the model a small but statistically significant increase was found. The study also shows that more than 35% erroneously believe that their car is equipped with an ESC system. These findings may suggest that driver behaviour could reduce the positive effect ESC has on accidents. It also shows that drivers who purchase a new car are not well informed about what kind of safety devices the car is equipped with. These findings highlight the need for more targeted information to drivers.

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