Electronic stability control now compulsory on new EU cars

All new car models launched from now on will have to be fitted with electronic stability control under new European safety regulations.

Automobiles

All new car models launched from now on will have to be fitted with electronic stability control (ESC) as part of new European safety regulations. The technology, which prevents skidding during sudden manoeuvres, will become mandatory for existing model ranges in Europe from 31 October 2014. You may clap.

We're pretty ecstatic about this news, as electronic stability control, or electronic stability program (ESP) as it's known in some vehicles -- it also goes by other names -- is probably the greatest automotive invention since the cup holder.

Essentially, it's an active safety system that uses a microcomputer to keep an eye on sensors placed strategically around your vehicle. This monitors each sensor 25 times every second to check whether the driver's steering input corresponds to the direction in which the vehicle is moving.

If the two don't match -- the driver's turning left, but the car's going right -- it activates the brakes or accelerates each of the car's wheels individually as necessary to bring the vehicle back into line.

It's so effective, its makers claim it could prevent up to 80 per cent of all skidding accidents. That's a lofty estimate, we'll concede, but according to the Department for Transport statistics, cars fitted with ESC are involved in 25 per cent fewer accidents than those without.

To see stability control in all its anti-skid glory, check out this video we made.

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