Crash risk of ESC-fitted passenger cars

Tapio Koisaari*, Timo Kari, Tero Vahlberg, Niina Sihvola, Timo Tervo

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleScientificpeer-review

2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: We examined both fatal and injury at-fault crashes of a population of passenger cars fitted with electronic stability control (ESC). Crash rates were calculated in relation to both registration years and mileage. Crash rates were also calculated for a non-ESC car population and crash rate ratios were calculated to compare the crash risk between ESC-fitted and non-ESC-fitted passenger cars. Methods: Passenger car models with and without ESC were identified (ESC-equipped cars: 3,352,813 registration years; non-ESC-equipped: 5,839,946 registration years) and their vehicle information for the period 2009–2013, including mileage (ESC-equipped vehicles: 89.3 billion kilometers; non-ESC-equipped: 72.4 billion kilometers), was drawn from the national Vehicular and Driver Data Register. The registry of Finnish road accident investigation teams was accessed and all fatal at-fault crashes among the cars in the study populations (ESC 97; non-ESC 377) for the period 2009–2013 were analyzed. The motor insurance database includes at-fault crashes leading to injuries and was utilized for analyses (ESC: N = 8,827, non-ESC: N = 21,437). Crash rates and crash rate ratios were calculated to evaluate crash risk of both ESC-equipped and non-ESC-equipped passenger cars. Poisson regression was used to model crash involvement rate ratios both per registration year and per mileage for vehicles with ESC and without ESC, controlling for age and gender of the vehicle owner and vehicle mass. Results: Passenger cars fitted with ESC showed lower crash rates than non-ESC-equipped cars in all crash types studied. In general, the difference in crash rates between ESC-equipped and non-ESC-equipped vehicles was greater when the crashes were compared to the mileage rather than registration years. The mileage-proportional crash rate of ESC-equipped cars was 64% (95% confidence interval, 61%; 67%) lower in run-off-road crashes resulting in injury and as much as 82% (65%; 91%) lower in fatal run-off-road crashes when suicides and disease attacks were not taken into account. Conclusions: Our results show that modern passenger cars provide a significant crash risk reduction, which depends on both ESC and passive safety features introduced. Results also show that exposure evaluation in terms of registration years (or vehicle population) instead of true mileage can provide an overly pessimistic view of the crash risk.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)325-331
Number of pages7
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 18 Mar 2019
MoE publication typeA1 Journal article-refereed


  • Crash rate
  • electronic stability control
  • ESC
  • single-vehicle accident


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