Electronic stability control, or ESC, is one of the most important car safety features for winter driving. "ESC is an important feature for all weather situations, but especially when the roads are slippery," Rader says. It helps prevent loss of control and spinout crashes that are common in winter conditions.
ESC uses sensors and a microcomputer to continuously monitor steering. It applies the brakes or modulates engine power to help the driver maintain control of the car. As of the 2012 model year, the government has required ESC on all passenger vehicles, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration.
ESC has proven very effective in reducing crashes. A study by the Highway Loss Data Institute found that for cars and SUVs, ESC reduced fatal single-vehicle crash risk by 49 percent and fatal multiple-vehicle crash risk by 20 percent.
In addition, the NHTSA notes that electronic stability control can help prevent rollovers.