Automakers are offering electronic stability control on more and more passenger vehicles to help prevent them from sliding, veering off the road, or even rolling over. The technology is the product of an ongoing evolution stemming from antilock brakes.

When a driver jams the brake pedal too hard, antilock hydraulic valves subtract brake pressure at a given wheel so the wheel does not lock up. As these systems proliferated in the 1990s, manufacturers tacked on traction-control valves that help a spinning drive wheel grip the road.