Vehicle Safety Technologies

Electronic Stability Control, Predictive Emergency Braking Systems & lane Departure Warning

Vehicles have been engineered to provide greater active and passive safety in recent years. Active safety technologies help avoid a crash while passive safety technologies assist to reduce the potential injury and damage resulting from a crash. Seatbelts and airbags are examples of passive safety technology as their safety benefits are realised when a collision occurs. Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Electronic Stability Control are examples of active safety as their safety benefits are realised to avoid the crash occurring.

The SafeCars program highlights three specific active safety technologies that will help reduce the road toll as their availability and take up by motorists grows.


Electronic Stability Control

How does Electronic Stability Control (ESC) work?

ESC is Active Crash Prevention Technology.  Using a number of intelligent sensors, ESC immediately identifies when a car has deviated from the driver’s steered direction and the driver has lost control of the vehicle. As soon as impending instability, oversteering and understeering are registered, ESC stabilises the vehicle by selectively braking individual wheels and reducing engine torque to bring the vehicle back on course.

What happens

Understeer - the vehicle’s front tries to break away towards the outside of the curve.

ESP then brakes the inside rear wheel (red) to reduce the danger of skidding.

Oversteer - the vehicle’s rear tries to break away towards the outside of the curve.

ESC then brakes the outside front wheel (red) to reduce the danger of skidding.

What is Active Crash Prevention Technology?

Active crash prevention technology helps to stop a crash from ever happening. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) is an active safety system that reduces the risk of a driver losing control of the vehicle.
Also known as Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Vehicle Stability/Swerve Control (VSC), Active Stability Control (ASC), and Dynamic Stability Traction Control, ESC  builds upon features such as Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Traction Control to stabilise the vehicle when it deviates from the driver’s steered direction.

Why ESC?

ESC helps you remain in control of your vehicle when you skid, swerve suddenly or when road conditions change. European experts estimate that up to 40 per cent of single vehicle crashes could be avoided if all cars had ESC, meaning 50 lives a year could be saved in Victoria.

ESC considerably reduces the risk of single vehicle crashes by:

correcting impending oversteering or understeering;

stabilising the vehicle during sudden evasive manoeuvres e.g. swerving;

improving handling on gravel and unmade roads e.g. road shoulders, and

improving traction on slippery or icy roads.

International research has shown that single vehicle crashes can be
reduced by 35% in passenger vehicles and 67% in Four Wheel Drive
and Sports Utility Vehicles (SUV’s), fitted with ESC.

To see an animation explaining ESC go to YouTube

Buying a car with ESC

Before you choose your next car, look for models with ESC. For a list of locally available cars with ESC, visit:


Q What does ESC stand for?
A ESC, or Electronic Stability Control, is a term used by some vehicle manufacturers to describe an active safety feature that reduces the risk of a driver losing control of their vehicle. It is currently referred to by a number of different names in Australia*, these include Electronic Stability Program (ESP), Dynamic Stability Control (DSC), Vehicle Stability/Swerve Control (VSC), Active Stability Control (ASC), and Dynamic Stability Traction Control.

Q Why is ESC important?
A Loss of control crashes are a major contributor to the Victorian road toll.
It is estimated that if ESC was fitted to every vehicle in Victoria, more than 50 lives could be saved annually.

Q How is ESC different to ABS and Traction Control?
A ESC uses components of Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) and Traction Control to stabilise the vehicle. Unlike ABS and Traction Control that only operate in the driving direction (longitudinal), ESC also helps the driver control sideways (lateral) movements which create instability. This makes ESC a total, holistic system that controls a car’s entire movements.

Q Do I need training to drive a vehicle with ESC?
A No. System manufacturers say that ESC supports the driver but does not require training or changes to driving styles.

Q Does ESC take over control from the driver?
A No. But it assists the driver to maintain control of the vehicle.

Q Can I buy ESC separately and install it into my car?
A No. ESC is an in-built car safety feature that is only available in certain models.

Q How much does ESC cost?
A ESC is not sold separately. It is an in-built car safety feature that is only available in certain cars, so cost varies between manufacturers and car models.


Predictive Emergency Braking Systems (PEBS)

Rear-end collisions between vehicles are common and frequently caused by inadequate braking or driver inattention.  Predictive Emergency Braking Systems (PEBS) provide drivers with a warning but can also provide additional braking support.

PEBS uses radar and the Electronic Stability Program to constantly monitor and analyse the traffic ahead. When PEBS detects the distance from a vehicle in front is becoming critically short at the approach speed it takes action by:

  • Preparing the braking system for potential emergency braking to give the driver full braking power if required thus saving valuable hundredths of a second.

  • If the driver fails to react, PEBS warns the driver through either an audible, visual or haptic alert (for example a sudden brake jerk), or a combination. The driver is made aware of the potential collision and can react earlier than might have otherwise been possible.

  • If the driver still fails to react and a rear end collision threat remains, PEBS can initiate partial braking of the vehicle. This not only reduces the closing speed but in the event of a collision reduces the severity. At this stage PEBS also reacts to a driver’s braking attempt if one is made and judges whether their braking effort. If it is not, PEBS can increase braking pressure to the required level based on distance to object and speed of travel. 

  • If the driver completely fails to react, PEBS can automatically initiate full braking. If a collision has become unavoidable, this at least reduces the speed at impact and therefore its severity for occupants of both vehicles involved.

Predictive Emergency Braking Systems have a high potential to prevent
crashes & reduce road fatalities & injuries. In order to realize these benefits a high market penetration will be needed.

For a visual presentation on PEBS go to YouTube


Lane Departure Warning (LDW)

A vehicle inadvertently leaving a lane through driver distraction or inattention is dangerous and causes serious collisions.

Lane Departure Warning (LDW) uses a video camera to detect lane markings ahead of the vehicle and to monitor the vehicle's position in its lane.
When the function detects that the vehicle is about to unintentionally move out of the lane, it warns the driver by means of a visual, audible and/or haptic signal, such as steering wheel vibration.

These warnings signal the driver that the vehicle is drifting off course, allowing them to counter-steer accordingly. The function does not issue a warning when the driver activates the turn signal to change lanes or turn intentionally.
To see a visual presentation on LDW go to YouTube



The benefits of an Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) is well recognised for cars. However, research indicates that ABS on motorcycles can have important safety benefits for riders.

Motorcycles are, by their nature, less stable than four wheeled vehicles. Braking too hard can destabilise a motorcycle. This can lead to either the front or rear wheel locking, which can cause the bike to overturn or slide. Alternatively, failure to brake hard enough can result in a rider failing to avoid a crash.

How does an Anti-lock Braking System work on motorcycles?

An Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) works to prevent a motorcycle's wheel, or wheels, from locking during braking. ABS uses speed sensors on both wheels to accurately determine wheel speed, as well as sensors to determine when a wheel is about to lock. ABS adjusts the braking pressure accordingly to prevent the wheel from locking, and assists with maintaining the stability of the motorcycle. In many circumstances ABS has been shown to reduce braking distance. Motorcycles with ABS technology have been shown to be involved in fewer crashes on the road.

Most major motorcycle manufacturers now offer motorcycles with ABS as either standard or optional equipment. If you are planning to buy a motorcycle to ride on-road, it is recommended that you buy one with ABS. However, ABS may not be appropriate for off-road riding conditions. If you are planning to use an ABS equipped motorcycle off-road, you can switch ABS on and off as required.

VicRoads has compiled a list of those motorcycles fitted with ABS, to assist riders with making an informed decision when purchasing a motorcycle.