When it became compulsory for front seat occupants in a car to wear a seatbelt back in 1983 the number of motorists killed or seriously injured fell by 50%. New technology within cars is always coming out but the brand new automatic braking system could have the same dramatic decrease in accidents that the seat belt did. That is if it’s made compulsory on new cars.
The new technology- which is known as autonomous emergency braking (AEB) – slows down and stops cars travelling at up to 50mph to avoid other vehicles or obstacles: impressive stuff. The system works through lasers which are fitted on the car’s bumper and windscreens to override the brakes if a car in front suddenly stops or if the driver is heading towards an object. But with this technology being a paid for added extra in most cases, a majority of cars don’t benefit from it. Figures from the car industry have called for laws making them compulsory in new cars in a bid to save lives.
Leading UK law firm Accident Advice Helpline commented that “Road deaths and serious injuries drastically fell when the seat belt was introduced and if the AEB can have the same affect then it’s something which everyone deserves to have in their cars. Almost every year the amount of road deaths has been going down but this could aid that considerably.”
Thatcham- the motor insurer’s research centre – have asked the treasury to introduce and fund a £500 incentive for those choosing to buy new cars with AEB fitted. Peter Shaw, the chief executive of Thatcham said that “A responsible driver who pays extra to reduce the potential impact of their car should benefit from a helping hand from the Government.”
More than 1,700 people died on roads in Britain last year and although that figure is generally dropping year on year it’s still a figure which could be improved. Peter went on to say that “An estimated 90 per cent of crashes are due to human error or distraction, so it is easy to see how driver intervention systems can help to substantially reduce the risk or impact of a crash.”
Accident Advice Helpline said “With human error being the largest reason for road traffic accidents the introduction of AEB could be a fantastic addition to safety fittings on a car. We just hope that some people don’t learn to rely on it as a fall back option whenever they don’t react in time to obstacles.”
Figures revealed by Thatcham earlier said that as well as saving lives it could drastically reduce the cost of car insurance as whiplash claims cost the UK £2billion annually, which adds around £90 to the average car insurance premium. But with AEB whiplash claims would be largely a thing of the past because low speed crashes would be far less likely to happen. Mr Shaw said that “Today, the average injury crash costs around £90,000. The costs of emergency services, NHS, road repairs, congestion, lost output and insurance are the tangibles- while the human loss and suffering are felt across families for years. Many of these losses are avoidable.” Imagine that crash hadn’t happened on the motorway during your morning commute: no tail back traffic making you late, no emergency services called out to assist the crash and no repairs needed to damaged roads or railings.
Currently 23% of new cars on sale today have AEB as an option on the car, although for most it isn’t standard and merely another paid for added extra. Volvo is believed to be the only manufacturers who are offering the technology as standard on every model. This sadly means that less than 10% of new cars are sold with AEB.
Source: Thatcham Research