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Vehicle rollover risk and electronic stability control systems
  1. P A MacLennan1,2,
  2. T Marshall1,
  3. R Griffin1,
  4. M Purcell1,
  5. G McGwin1,2,3,4,
  6. L W Rue1,2
  1. 1
    Center for Injury Sciences at UAB, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  2. 2
    Section of Trauma, Burns, and Surgical Critical Care, Division of General Surgery, Department of Surgery, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  3. 3
    Department of Epidemiology and International Health, School of Public Health, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  4. 4
    Department of Ophthalmology, School of Medicine, University of Alabama at Birmingham, Birmingham, Alabama, USA
  1. Dr P MacLennan, Center for Injury Sciences at UAB, 120 Kracke Building, 1922 7th Avenue South, Birmingham AL 35294-0016, USA; pmac{at}


Background: Electronic stability control (ESC) systems were developed to reduce motor vehicle collisions (MVCs) caused by loss of control. Introduced in Europe in 1995 and in the USA in 1996, ESC is designed to improve vehicle lateral stability by electronically detecting and automatically assisting drivers in unfavorable situations.

Aim: To examine the relationship between vehicle rollover risk and presence of ESC using a large national database of MVCs.

Methods: A retrospective cohort study for the period 1995 through 2006 was carried out using data obtained from the National Automotive Sampling System General Estimates System. All passenger cars and sport utility vehicles (SUVs)/vans of model year 1996 and later were eligible. Vehicle ESC (unavailable, optional, standard) was determined on the basis of make, model, and model year. Risk ratios (RRs) and 95% CIs were calculated to compare rollover risk by vehicle ESC group.

Results: For all crashes, vehicles equipped with standard ESC had decreased risk of rollover (RR = 0.62, 95% CI 0.50 to 0.77) compared with vehicles with ESC unavailable. The association was consistent for single-vehicle MVCs (RR = 0.61, 95% CI 0.46 to 0.82); passenger cars had decreased rollover risk (RR = 0.77, 95% CI 0.52 to 1.12), but SUVs/vans had a more dramatically decreased risk (RR = 0.40, 95% CI 0.26 to 0.61).

Conclusions: This study supports previous results showing ESC to be effective in reducing the risk of rollover. ESC is more effective in SUVs/vans for rollovers related to single-vehicle MVCs.

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