Imagine this scenario. During one cloudy but dark afternoon, you are driving on your way to your child’s school play in Alabang. As you drive along, a light amount of rain started pouring down. While warnings of forecasted torrential rains due to the monsoon season have made their way through the radio, social media, and television, you still went through your journey because you wouldn’t want to miss seeing your child perform on stage. Because you think you are a safe and defensive driver, you do all the necessary precautions in order to arrive safely to your destination. Upon entering SLEX, torrential rains made visibility poor and the roads slippery, which meant many cars carelessly drove with their hazard lights turned on. However, you are a defensive and safe driver as you claim to be, so you slowed down a bit, drove with just your headlights and fog lights on, but not with the high beams turned on, because you know that this will cause glare to other drivers.
As you head on to your journey, your 7-seater SUV suddenly comes across a large patch of road submerged in a relatively thick layer of water, and you failed to notice it. As you travel on it at a relatively fast speed, your 7-seater SUV starts to hydroplane. Because you were suddenly caught off guard, you started to do careless things in an attempt to try to put your SUV back into your control, swerving through numerous lanes, and then finally hitting a side barrier. Because your SUV had two airbags, you did not suffer any major injuries and you are able to walk away from the accident site. However, the likelihood of this accident happening in the first place would have been reduced or even eliminated if the car you purchased had ESC.
We may claim to be a safe driver, and that “hindi naman mangyayari sa akin iyan” mentality sometimes gets the best out of us. We think we’re the best driver in the world which led us to conclude that nothing can get in our way, but that’s always a big mistake. Overestimating one’s skills and failing to acknowledge one’s weaknesses is a very dangerous concoction. Even Lewis Hamilton can sometimes commit mistakes out on the track. Yet, even if we have not been able to step into the Formula 1 arena, who are we to proclaim as being the safest, most skilled driver out there? This is why in my personal opinion, ESC should be in one’s priorities when buying a car.
What Is ESC?
Widely regarded by many as the most important vehicle safety development since the three-point seat belt, ESC, also known as electronic stability control (sometimes known as electronic stability program), is an active safety feature that monitors steering and vehicle direction.
ESC intervenes when the system detects a probable loss of steering control, such as when doing evasive maneuvers. When it detects that the vehicle is not going through the intended direction you are steering the car through, ESC does its job through a combination of braking and throttle management in order to recover the vehicle and let the driver regain control.
Oftentimes, ESC is mated in conjunction with traction control system, or TCS. Many people confuse ESC and TCS. TCS differs in a way that it detects wheel slip, and applies corrective braking force to the wheel that has lost traction, hence the name.
ESC is not your best friend during motorsports, which is why this feature can be turned-off. For this article, I’ll be emphasizing the safety benefits of ESC on a daily basis.
What Is The Industry Trend?
If you will notice in our reviews, we’re very critical towards safety features, especially with ESC. A normally practiced habit in our local automotive industry is that, ESC is normally seen only in the highest variant of an individual model, or the higher-end models in a manufacturer’s line-up. This is why we always commend a manufacturer who puts it as standard on all variants of an individual model, or their entire brand’s line-up.
Our friends from Autodeal were able to find out the general Filipino consumer’s buying patterns. Consumer queries in their website about safety decreased as the vehicle segment that the buyer is tapping into became bigger and more expensive.
This is also the same case when it comes to manufacturer queries. Mainstream manufacturers like Kia, Mitsubishi, Suzuki, to name a few, have higher queries about safety when compared to brands like Audi, Mercedes-Benz, BMW, Volkswagen, and Subaru. From here, we can conclude that higher-end cars are already expected by consumers to be safer and fitted with numerous safety features expected of their price, hence the reduced concerns and queries about safety with these vehicles.
From an age demographic standpoint, queries about safety increase as age increases, most likely due to the fact that as one gets older and forms a family, safety becomes a higher priority. Once the age demographic reaches the 55-64 year-old range, the drop in safety queries could be due to the reason that as their children grow older and likely will soon have their own cars, their priority towards safety lessens. Interestingly, when the folks from Autodeal compared queries about power and performance, the trend is reversed. Younger buyers have a high emphasis towards power and performance instead of safety.
Lastly, when consumers check each category of a vehicle’s spec sheet, the folks from Autodeal have found out that from the seven categories in their vehicle spec sheet, the Safety and Security category came out fifth. Meanwhile, Engine, Power & Performance, and Features make-up the top three categories.
These data give us a glimpse of how a car manufacturer’s product planners will spec their vehicles for our market. As most Filipino consumers prioritize power, fuel efficiency, and features, it’s no surprise then that most manufacturers try to offer the most number of screens, the clearest of cameras, the most powerful of engines, and the like, in a bid to attract a wide range of buyers.
Consequently, there is also a lack of consumer awareness towards the importance of ESC. Even if a certain model in a manufacturer’s line-up is equipped with this feature, it’s rare to see advertisements highlighting this safety feature as a result of the Filipino consumer’s preferences.
Why Is It Important?
Before we clamor for the standardization of advanced safety features such as automatic emergency braking and blind spot warning, which are now found in higher-end or higher-spec cars, ESC should be the first feature that becomes mandatory to all vehicles in the Philippines. This simple electronic feature, which can save you from spinning out of control, avoiding an accident altogether, should be the first step in reducing road fatalities. Whether an accident is caused by human error, mechanical faults, or the annual rainy season, electronic stability control is our first line of defense.
ESC started rolling out in US-market vehicles since 1997. Statistical analyses done by the United States National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) of 1997-2004 crash data from the Fatality Analysis Reporting System (FARS) and 1997-2003 crash data from the State data files estimate reductions with ESC for various types of crash involvements.
As a whole, ESC was able to significantly reduce single-vehicle crashes, especially run-off-road and rollover incidents. If you are still not convinced by this statistical data as to how ESC is able to provide a first line of defense from a spin-out, then I don’t know what will.
Since the year 2012, ESC has been given such huge importance by the Euro New Car Assessment Program (NCAP), a full five-star rating is only awarded to a car that is equipped with this feature as standard on all variants. Not just the highest variant, but that includes the base variant as well.
Still not convinced? Alright. If you still think that ESC is not important to you, and you still think that you are the best driver in the world, then consider the fact that not everyone drives as safely or as defensively as you, especially in a jeepney, motorcycle, and tricycle-filled Manila, where these vehicles swerve, cut, turn, and drop-off people carelessly, without giving any indications of their intended directions. Worse, there are often truck drivers and jeepney drivers that give the alibi of “nawalan ako ng preno” as an excuse for their inadequacy to drive decently. You may not need it now, but once an emergency situation arises that you need to do an evasive maneuver caused by another unsafe driver, you will one day be glad to have ESC equipped in your vehicle.
Will ESC Make Cars Expensive?
According to the United States National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the module for the anti-lock brake system (ABS) is $368 (in 2005 dollars) and an additional $111 for electronic stability control for a total system cost of $479 per vehicle. The reason for ESC costing less than ABS is because the ESC module is just something that’s added on top of ABS. Considering factors such as inflation and exchange rate fluctuations since 2005, the estimated price for ESC can be anywhere from P6,000 to P8,000. Conservatively speaking, this could lead to an estimated increase in a vehicle’s MSRP by at least P10,000. Now, let’s be honest here. That amount of increase probably won’t stop you from buying the car of your dreams, and if an increase of P10,000 is enough for you to rethink your vehicle purchases, shouldn’t you commute instead since it only means that you’re not financially ready to own a vehicle?
The Light At The End Of The Tunnel
It’s not all bad news, though. Many manufacturers in recent years are now equipping electronic stability control as standard on many of its cars. We commend car manufacturers like Subaru Philippines, wherein its entire model line-up not only has ESC as standard, but also an airbag count that goes well beyond the usual two. Toyota Motor Philippines has also recognized the importance of this safety feature. In an unprecedented move in the industry, Toyota has made seven airbags, hill start assist, and you guessed it, electronic stability control as standard in its entire Vios line-up. The entire line-up of the recently launched Toyota Rush is also generously equipped with safety features, ESC also being one of them. We also give an honorable mention to manufacturers like Honda Cars Philippines for equipping ESC on most of its models and its variants. It is equipped on all variants of the BR-V, Civic, HR-V, CR-V, Accord, and Odyssey, while it is available on the higher variants of the City, Jazz, and Mobilio.
To conclude, ESC is a feature that needs further attention among Filipino consumers. Even if you drive defensively and safely, it only takes another unsafe driver for an accident to happen, and sometimes, avoiding it from happening needs the use of evasive maneuvers aided by ESC. As of June of 2018, Malaysia is now part of a growing number of nations that requires all-new vehicles to be fitted with ESC, making it the first ASEAN nation to do so, joining the likes of the EU and the United States in reducing road fatalities that could have been easily prevented by ESC.
Now, if you are one of those who are now convinced about the importance of ESC, help us spread the word by doing us a favor. Share this article to your friends, family, and colleagues in order for Filipino drivers to gain awareness towards this life-saving feature.