June 9, 2010
How much will they help in avoiding a collision or accident as a result of avoiding a collision? How effective are these technologies on gravel roads as opposed to asphalt? Do I have all of these right? Antilock brakes release and engage brakes to avoid locking wheels in a hard stop. Brake assist adds power during exceptionally hard braking. Electronic brake force distribution applies different loads to the front and rear wheels. Electronic stability control adjusts braking on individual wheels to ensure the car is traveling in the direction as expected by the driver. What about Electronic throttle control?
You're on the right track with the braking features, though electronic throttle control is in a different category. Electronic throttles allow more precise control of fuel economy and emissions and make it easier to integrate cruise control, stability control and traction control.
All the safety features you mention will help reduce accidents, though there is little data for some. Electronic stability control is widely regarded as the most effective. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration estimates that stability control reduces single-vehicle crashes of cars by 26 percent and single-vehicle crashes of SUVs by 48 percent and will save thousands of lives every year once all vehicles have it.
Loose gravel and snow tend to increase braking distances and reduce the effectiveness of stability control because it is harder for sensors to evaluate a constantly changing surface, but you're better off with both because they help maintain steering control. The best safety feature in those situations is for the driver to slow down and rely on good judgment instead of technology. Also bear in mind that some vehicles have all those safety features and more, yet they're still involved in accidents. Speeding, following too closely, failing to pay attention and driving while impaired are just some of the reasons driver behavior can trump technology.