Magazine article Law & Order

Crash Avoidance Technology

Magazine article Law & Order

Crash Avoidance Technology

Article excerpt

Few fleet managers doubt the benefits of anti-lock brakes. ABS was new-fangled electronic hardware and software when introduced to cops in 1991. Almost 15 years later, ABS is widely credited for what it really does...allow braking and steering. In real life, pulsed (ABS) braking allows shorter stops than locked up tires.

In 1998, cops were introduced to another gee-whiz piece of automotive magic: electronic traction control. Like ABS, the brakes were pulsed or modulated to reduce wheelspin. However, the effects on vehicle performance were disastrous. At the first hint of wheelspin, the engine was harshly throttled back by a variety of means, and the ABS activated and the throttle response was a long time in returning.

This bad taste from traction control remains to this day, in spite of great strides in powertrain management. The system is now adjustable and tunable. Traction control is smart enough to detect wheelspin on ice versus wheelspin on dry pavement on ice, where it is faster to activate and more aggressive with engine and brake controls, versus wheelspin on dry pavement where it is slower to activate and has less aggressive counter-measures.

Why this history lesson in braking and traction? The next great leap forward in vehicle safety is now available from all three vehicle manufacturers. The industry-neutral name is Electronic Stability Control (ESC). ESC is on par with ABS and airbags as a vehicle safety device.

ESC is not just geared to preventing rollovers. It works to keep the vehicle on the roadway during extreme or aggressive driving. …

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