Electronic Stability Control (ESC) Litigation

In 1995 Mercedes Benz starting offering electronic stability control as a standard feature in some of their models. As early as 2000 some Lexus models started carrying ESC as a standard option. Some automakers have waited for much longer to provide ESC as a standard safety feature. The question is how does ESC make a vehicle safer?

Some experts believe that ESC should be a standard feature on all automobiles, but almost all agree that ESC is a necessary safety feature in all sports utility vehicles (SUV’s).

As most people know that SUV’s pose a greater risk of rolling over since as they have a high center of gravity resulting in serious injury, including quadriplegia and wrongful death. ESC is a feature that is designed to avoid the events that precede a rollover.


What is ESC? Electronic stability control, or ESC, uses the speed sensors on each wheel and the ability to break individual wheels that are the basis of antilock brakes. ESC adds a control unit that monitors steering wheel angle and vehicle rotation around the vehicle’s vertical axis. This unit uses the steering and rotation information to detect that the vehicle is about to travel in a direction different from the one indicated by the steering wheel position. Then ESC automatically breaks the appropriate wheel to help the driver maintain control. In many cases engine power also is reduced.

How ESC helps drivers maintain control: A driver loses control when the vehicle goes in a direction different from the one indicated by the position of the steering wheel. This typically occurs when a driver tries to turn very hard (swerve) or to turn on a slippery road. Then the vehicle may under steer or over steer.

When a vehicle under steers it turns less than the driver intended and continues in a forward direction because the front wheels have insufficient traction. When it over steers it turns more than the driver intended because the rear end is spinning or sliding out. ESC can prevent under steering and over steering by briefly breaking the appropriate wheel. In many cases engine power also is reduced.

The law firm of Abraham, Watkins, Nichols, Agosto, Aziz & Stogner is currently handling litigation involving ESC.