1992 Mercedes-Benz S-Class W140
Volvo is best known as a champion of safety, but the Swedish automaker is not the only company dedicated to protecting drivers and passengers. Mercedes-Benz has had more than its share of life-saving advances.
After seat belts, one of the most significant automotive safety technologies is electronic stability control. ESC builds on the benefits of other systems including anti-lock brakes and traction control. It’s particularly effective on top-heavy vehicles like trucks and SUVs. Over the years it has saved many lives and prevented countless crashes.
While the Mercedes-Benz S-Class is hardly an obscure vehicle it has been a pioneer in many areas. In fact, the W140 model of the mid 1990s was the world’s first car fitted with ESC.
The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) mandated ESC on all new passenger vehicles sold after September 1, 2011, but most manufacturers beat that deadline by years.
As for the benefits of stability control, NHTSA estimates that if the nation’s entire vehicle fleet were equipped with the technology up to 8,200 lives could be spared every year. But given how many older cars are on the road the adoption rate will never hit 100 percent. Additionally, NHTSA figures that ESC alone saved more than 2,200 lives between 2008 and 2010.