Electronic stability control and side impact crashes: 100% cure of a case of realigning safety priorities

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Side impact crashes remain a key road safety priority. Electronic stability control (ESC) has been shown to be a life-saving technology and was heavily promoted as having significant benefits in reducing rollover crashes and run-off-road crashes in particular. Similarly, side impact airbags (SAB) offer considerable promise in reducing the number of people killed and seriously injured in side
impact crashes.

The paper has two aims: 1 to estimate the likely crash reduction benefits and financial savings in terms of ESC in reducing pole side impact crashes in Victoria, and 2, to assess the need for, and type of, road safety countermeasures required to address the persisting side impact crash problem. In doing so, the role of side airbags was assessed, and a case for the pole side impact Global Technical Regulation (GTR) examined.

Using historical crash data from Victoria, vehicle ownership rates, actuarial determinations of crash risk and future population projections, future crash
rates were determined. It was projected that in the period 2016 to 2045, a total of 1088 passenger car and SUV occupants were predicted to be killed and
8661 seriously injured due to pole side impact crashes. Given a range of evidence on the effectiveness of ESC, side impact airbags and the proposed new Pole Side Impact global Technical Regulation, the combined crash reduction benefit was established.

Given stated implementation scenarios and associated assumptions, the combined benefit of ESC, SAB and the proposed PSI GTR was a 50% reduction in the number of occupants killed and seriously injured in narrow object side impact crashes. Conversely, half of all projected fatalities and serious injuries still occur, translating to the likely deaths of 547 occupants and serious injuries
sustained by 4145 occupants.

It is clear then that ESC and side airbags are highly effective however other crash prevention and injury mitigation countermeasures are required to address the remaining crash problem. Adoption of a broader view of side impact safety
countermeasures, including improved infrastructure and safer road user behavior, is essential.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2013
EventInternational Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles 2013 - Seoul, Korea, South
Duration: 27 May 201330 May 2013
Conference number: 23rd


ConferenceInternational Technical Conference on the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles 2013
Abbreviated titleESV 2013
Country/TerritoryKorea, South
Internet address


  • Electronic Stability Control
  • Crash
  • Side impact
  • injury
  • active safety

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