Stability control is touted as ‘the most important safety device since the seatbelt’. It is now appearing on smaller cars such as the Hyundai Elantra and soon the Honda Fit. Would a larger car with ABS (IE 07 Accord or Maxima) be a safer choice for a young driver?
I vote for both.
If you want your younger driver to be as safe as possible, I would recommend a car with both ESC and ABS. If the car has ESC, it will automatically also have ABS, but not necessarily vice-versa. A larger car will probably be a bit safer in a high-speed impact than a smaller car, but no matter which size car you buy, try to get one with both features.
I’ve nevre driven ESC, but I don’t personally like ABS. I think both should be available as options for those who want them, but not required (which ESC will be).
Personally, I would prefer not to have any of this technology on my car. The cost to benefit ratio isn’t there for me.
One thing that does alarm me about most of these “features” is that people become too complacent and tend to overdrive the car. You could see the early stages of this when disc brakes became prevalent. Nobody would roar up to a stop sign like they do today if they had to rely on the older braking systems. Tailgating, pulling out in front of traffic etc are all made possible by more capable cars. If you doubt this happens, just look at what the effect of having 4 wheel drive does to people in the winter. They feel invincible.
Young drivers, who have no experience at what constitutes the limit of traction, will be pushing cars even more than they do today. When body roll is virtually eliminated, there is no warning sign for loss of traction. It happens in an instant and takes them by surprise.
No,I favor driver training,driver education programs. I dont think it makes you a poor parent to provide your child a vehicle without stability control. I do think it is your job as a parent to insist on use of seat belts and to forbid activites in the car that would distract the driver. In regards to how electronics can make a young driver safer I believe it is well within parental rights to equip the vehicle that they provide their children with recording devices that provide parents with data that tells how the vehicle was being operated.
I have never activated the ABS or ESC on any car I have driven (that I know of), but I have simulated these features. The video game Gran Turismo in the simulation mode will let you buy and modify virtual cars. You can adjust both the traction control system (TCS) and ESC to higher and lower levels, or even turn them off. After experimenting with their settings on the virtual track, I have a better understanding of the value of TCS and ESC.
I favor driver training and good parenting, but there is no reason for your young driver to even know these safety features are present. Teach young drivers to drive in a sane and safe manner. Then some day if they hit a patch of ice, these features might just save a life.
I go back and forth between a motorcycle; a small car with no TCS, ESC, or ABS; and a minivan with all three. I operate all three vehicles in the same safe manner. The idea that a vehicle with safety features encourages people to drive like fools is bogus. Those who drive like idiots will drive like idiots regardless of the car and regardless of the safety features.
It depends on road conditions. Stability control is a great feature to have if you travel wintery (ice/slush/snow) roads on a regular basis. ABS does little in these conditions and in some ways hurts.
For me, I want both. I was injured (lost two teeth) about 40 years ago in a 17 car accident (2 deaths) ABS would have saved me my two teeth and eliminated my involvement. It might even have saved those two lives of a honeymoon couple.
It’s one of those features that when needed can really be a life saver. But if you’re an experienced and careful driver you’ll probably never need it.
The key word is “probably”.
Although I know how to perform “cadence braking”, and I have used it many times over the years, there is no way that my cadence braking is as effective as ABS when it comes to being able to steer a car while braking. I defy anyone to pulse his brakes as many times per minute as an ABS system is capable of doing. By allowing my ABS system to do the cadence braking, I can concentrate on steering the car out of harm’s way.
And, if we are talking about ESC, there is absolutely no way that a driver, no matter how skilled, can apply the brake on one wheel or two wheels in order to help bring his vehicle out of a skid.
In theory, Driver Education is the answer to these situations, but in reality, many people do not react fast enough–or appropriately–in emergency situations, despite their Driver Training. Despite my record of driving for 43 years with only two accidents and the fact that I have not had an accident for over 37 years, I still like the security of knowing that these electronic systems are there, in the background, ready to help me in emergency situations.
Do they add complexity to a vehicle? Yes.
Is the benefit worth the added complexity? Again, yes, IMHO.
Thanks for the comments. I am considering an Elantra ES and a Civic for a 22 yr old. Considering Hyundai’s recent strides in quality and the ESC , I may go with that one
People tend to exceed the limits of any cars capabilities. If they did not do so then there would be no crashes. The idea behind features such as ESC and ABS is to extend the “forgiveness zone” where people can control their cars at the limits of handling and thereby avoid crashes. These features don’t MAKE you complacent but you must LEARN how to use them or TEACH your kids how they work.
Lastly, if you have kids you don’t speak about safety features in terms of “cost to benefit” ratio. I would pay my life’s savings for a car that had features that would protect my children in EVERY crash (or prevented them every time). If your kids’ lives are a “benefit” that must be balanced against cost then we are not even in the same discussion.
I also vote for both. A great driver can approximate ABS, but no driver can apply the brake to a single wheel as does stability control. Twice in eight years the bright yellow stability control exclaimation point has lit in my guage cluster and I slowed down.
People tend to exceed the limits of any cars capabilities. If they did not do so then there would be no crashes
There are many other reasons for car crashes other than driving beyond your, or your vehicle’s, capability.
extend the “forgiveness zone” where people can control their cars at the limits of handling and thereby avoid crashes
That’s my point. It eliminates the subtle messages that you are exceeding the handling capabilities until it is too late. You drive faster because the car can go faster before there is a problem. That exacerbates the issue, especially for new drivers without much experience.
must LEARN how to use them or TEACH your kids how they work
So you’re going to learn how to use ESC? About the only way I can see doing that is no different than many of us learned how to handle a car under unusual circumstances- take it to an empty parking lot and experiment. Once you know your car’s limitations, then don’t push close to those limits intentionally. I don;t like the idea of a “feature” that allows people to push their cars even further and at greater speeds than today. It’s bad enough now…
I would pay my life’s savings for a car that had features that would protect my children in EVERY crash (or prevented them every time). If your kids’ lives are a “benefit” that must be balanced against cost then we are not even in the same discussion.
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What’s stopping you then? Full roll cage, fuel cell, 5 pt harness, HANS device…I could go on. There are all kinds of safety devices and features available for you to spend your fortune on. Get crackin!