All cars should have electronic stability control (ESC) – that’s the verdict of one of the UK’s leading insurance research centres.

According to Thatcham, 400 deaths and 3000 injuries could be prevented every year if manufacturers were more prepared to install ESC throughout their ranges. The Berkshire-based organisation claims ESC costs just £50 to make and yet is omitted from 60% of cars on British roads.

Around 90% of Swedish cars and 60% of German cars have ESC as standard, and only Audi, Mercedes-Benz, Cadillac, Lexus, Porsche and Volvo fit ESC as standard to all their models. Five manufacturers – Chevrolet, Daihatsu, Lotus, Proton and Suzuki – do not use it at all, even as an option.

ESC works by taking control of different wheels automatically as soon as traction is lost between rubber and road, adding or taking away power where necessary. It is specifically designed to allow drivers to avoid losing control and spinning their vehicles.

A Thatcham spokesman said: “This is a shocking state of affairs. British motorists, their passengers and other road users deserve the very best. Do manufacturers think that their lives are less valuable?"

“This is collision avoidance technology – the data is irrefutable. Pressure must be brought to bear to make ESC as commonplace as ABS or airbags. ESC doesn't just help during a crash like an airbag – it helps prevent the accident happening in the first place.”

Every car on sale in the UK that has a version of ESC fitted – with the exception of the smart fortwo – has a switch that allows the driver to disengage the aid.