The research, conducted by the Enhanced Safety of Vehicles Conference, found that ESC was especially effective in helping to prevent crashes involving skidding or overturning, with the potential to reduce serious accidents like this by up to 59%.
Road safety minister Dr Stephen Ladyman said: “Today’s research proves what a powerful tool ESC could be in saving lives. I urge anyone thinking of buying a new car to consider the safety benefits that ESC could bring.
“I also call on manufacturers to fit this important piece of kit as standard more widely – it’s not expensive and has the potential to make our roads significantly safer.”
Fleet managers association ACFO agreed that ESC can help reduce risk, but warned that it did not give drivers carte blanche to drive fast, believing it always will save them.
A spokesman said: “Many fleets, recognising its benefits, are already fitting ESC to their cars but there is a cost element to specifying it. Perhaps the insurance industry should recognise the benefits of ESC and adjust premiums accordingly for fleets spending the money.”
Leasing firm ALD Automotive backed Dr Ladyman’s call, and has started a pan-European initiative called “Choose ESC!”.
Marketing director David Yates said: “We welcome the Government’s backing for ESC and would encourage companies to make the technology a mandatory feature within their car fleet policies.
“Not only will the risk of death or serious injury to company car drivers and other road users be reduced if vehicles are equipped with ESC, but fleets will save on operating costs as “bent metal” costs will be cut as a result of fewer crashes, also leading to insurance premium savings.”
Last year, 46% of company cars supplied by ALD Automotive had ESC fitted.
Almost all were equipped with ESC as standard, with less than 2% of customers requesting it to be added.