Road Safety News
 

AEB becoming ‘hugely important active safety technology’

Tuesday 8th September 2015

An additional 27,000 new cars with standard fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB) will arrive on UK roads this September, according to Thatcham Research.

This increase will take the total to over 600,000, equating to 1.7% of all cars on UK roads.

Thatcham is a strong advocator of AEB, having recently written to the government to present its belief that buyers should be offered financial incentives to purchase a car fitted with the system.

In its submission to the government, Thatcham identified the potential for significant benefits ranging from the saving of lives to reductions in CO2 emissions.

Data from the Euro new car assessment programme (NCAP), the independent car safety body for Europe, revealed that low speed AEB technology leads to a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes.

Andrew Miller, president of Euro NCAP and chief technical officer of Thatcham Research, said: “Low speed AEB technology needs widespread fitment for maximum benefits.

“AEB is the first of the new automated crash avoidance technologies and is becoming increasingly common on modern passenger cars. The low speed option normally consists of an automatic brake function that operates effectively at speeds up to 50km/h.”

He also stated that with AEB technology now a key discriminator in the safety rating of new vehicles, it will see further increases as more manufacturers embrace the technology.

Andrew Miller added: “AEB is a hugely important active safety technology. In the last six months alone we’ve seen an additional 46,000 Mercedes and 28,000 Volkswagens on our roads with standard fit AEB.

“The biggest game-changer though will come when some of the UK’s best-sellers like Ford and Vauxhall begin to fit the system across their whole range. 

“Crash-prevention technology is no longer a premium-brand luxury and has the potential to bring significant safety benefits to fleets large and small.”

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Who is not surprised that our resident anti speed enforcement campaigner believes that 'smart drivers avoid accidents by swerving, sometimes violently, when something totally unpredictable happens'. Sad that this 'expert advice' should appear on a road safety forum.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (1) | Disagree (1)
0

It would be lethal on motorcycles, just as ISA would have been, destroying without warning the delicate balance of all the forces involved.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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+1

It is beyond rational dispute that, overall, improved technology has greatly improved road safety but that does not mean that every aspect of technology has resulted in a net improvement.

For my part, I feel sure that AEB will lead to many crashes that would not otherwise have happened, and many more than they will prevent. The prospect of driving behind a car equipped with AEB greatly worries me, not least because an electronic or system failure will rarely provide warning signs.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (2) | Disagree (1)
+1

Chevrons not Shevrons and, more importantly, head restraints not head rests. The purpose of head restraints is not to allow drivers or even passengers to sleep more comfortably but to minimise neck injuries when rammed from behind so that their head jerk backwards.
That is why the rests should be adjusted so that contact with the head is level with the ears - the CG of the head. When contact is lower than that the restraint acts as a pivot about which the head rotates, resulting in more, not less severe neck injuries. Everyone should check and adjust the restraint on every journey, but how many know, let alone how many do?

The response of the board of directors of one ferry company who's ferry had just sunk with many lives lost was to face the world's media and state that "Our safety standards are of the very highest" - an extreme example of "cognitive dissonance", one of the major problems in road safety and many other fields. See Wikipedia for more detail but basically it relates to those who refuse to believe irrefutable evidence that conflicts with their opinions.

Once again Hugh claims that only fools have accidents and that smart drivers can always stop in time. Nonsense - smart drivers avoid accidents by swerving, sometimes violently, when something totally unpredictable happens.
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

Agree (1) | Disagree (3)
-2

All this toing and froing when if drivers gave safe distance then there would be little or no problem. We wouldn't need to have a vehicle brake hard because of something in front as we would all be the greater safer distance as prescribed as in the HC. Then all road users would benefit from extra space on both sides of the road and that means greater visibility of the road and all its surroundings. Being seen by more and in the event of something being identified ahead or around corrections being made due to the longer distance allowed and therefore having time enough to take such remedial action.

We don't need cars that can brake for us if we changed our attitude and behaviour towards safe distances. On the motorway coming home two thing were very apparent regarding safe space. One, the advice on the overhanging boards to 'KEEP YOUR DISTANCE'. I ask myself does anyone know what is the safe distance at 70 of 80 mph? It's not the 40 to 60ft that I regularly see. The second, 'KEEP TWO SHEVRONS APART', and at the speeds above they are completely useless as they are far too close together and the advice boards should say 'KEEP THREE SHEVRONS APART'.
Bob Craven, Lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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-1

I agree generally with you Nigel and your attitude to driver behaviour - possibly not dissimilar to mine - however it's worth pointing out that the best driver in the world can still be taken ill at the wheeel, cease to be in control, whereupon safety devices such as AEB could save their life and those of his/her passengers, as well as 3rd parties.

As and when these devices become standard and if we should see fatalities and serious injuries decrease, how would we know that it was down to such devices and not a sea change in driver behaviour? Bit far-fetched I know.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+1

Nigel

I can reassure you that I understand that drivers don't need or intend to get into crashes. However, the evidence of 1000s of crashes every day on the UKs road network suggests to me that mitigating the effects when they do occur should see a significant amount of effort, alongside work to stop them happening such as education and training.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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+1

Out of interest one example of a so called safety device in cars is the presence of the head rest. It can be a safety factor if adjusted properly; most are not and, as a result many driver could experience injuries which might (presumably) be just as serious, than a straight forward whiplash injury. Additionally, you now have so much rear view mirror view view obscured because of the three rear seat head-rests that to me, that in itself is a counter productive action.
I want to have very clear vision of all that is happening behind. The rear-view mirror is a primary source of information: you don't want it cluttered up with head rests and spare tyres obscuring view. Then, as just one other example, you have the cyclops light; the extra, central, brake light indicator. Helpful perhaps, but if drivers need it then it is a general indication that they are not paying enough attention and very probably following too closely to boot.
I understand, Matt, that the march of technology is inevitable, but that does not necessarily make it better.
Nigel Albright

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+3

Matt

I understand your points of view but, without intending to be personal, it sounds as though you might have nothing more than the standard driving test. If so, when you have achieved something like RoADAR Gold you will, in my view, be much closer to understanding that as a general rule (given there is no 100% rule for anything) drivers don't need to get into crashes and that all the so called safety gizmos just make them lazier and less attentive.
Nigel Albright

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+2

Obviously factually correct, Honor, (sorry, didn't mean to sound patronising), but it was the ripple effect of the conclusions of the inquiry which put more responsibility on the owners of businesses to ensure their staff had proper training for the tasks they had to do. This meant that drivers in crashes could claim that their employers hadn't given them specific training for the job. This resulted in a major escalation in the driver training industry. More or less in paralellel with this (or because of this) the academics woke up to the vastly unexplored market place for them because much of their lives (and CVs) rely on the papers they write. Let's get most of those who write about road safety in it's various forms (driver behaviour analyists et al,) in to the driving seat and see what their actual safety on the road is like. Then we will know what they understand about being safe on the road/s.
Nigel Albright

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+5

Nigel,
I think we're just going to have to agree to disagree on this one.

I'm a firm believer that the advancement of safety technology in vehicles is key to improving road safety by reducing the likelihood of a crash occurring (such as AEB) and also mitigating the injuries that occur when crashes do happen. I fully appreciate that drivers will adapt their driving according to their perception of safety and that vehicle safety technologies aren't perfect. However, through my exposure (albeit limited) to the amount of R&D that goes into these technologies and into examining their real-world performance, the net benefit to road safety is apparent and will continue to advance.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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0

With regard to the 1987 Zeebrugge ferry disaster:

The ship’s bow doors had been left open after departure, which was unofficial but regular practice in order to make speedier turnarounds, and water flooded the car decks.

The Assistant Bosun in charge of this task was asleep in his cabin at the time. He later took full responsibility for this. He was the only member of Townsend-Thoresen staff or management to do so at the Sheen enquiry.

A coroner's inquest jury into the capsizing of the Herald of Free Enterprise returned verdicts of unlawful killing.

The Crown Prosecution Service charged P&O European Ferries with corporate manslaughter in 1989 and seven employees with manslaughter.

The case eventually collapsed but it set a precedent for corporate manslaughter being legally admissible in an English court.

After a public inquiry into the disaster, Lord Justice Sheen published a report which identified a "disease of sloppiness", and negligence at every level of the company's hierarchy.

The tragedy led to new safety regulations in the British ferry industry. With the sinking of the Estonia for similar reasons in 1994 and the deaths of 850 people, new rules in international ferry safety were introduced in 1999.

The use of a no fault reporting system is important in improving safety but it does not remove the responsibility of the individual or the organisation for their actions or inactions. You can no more entirely blame the system and remove individual responsibility than you can entirely blame the individual and absolve the system. The pursuit of safety demands that we constantly review both and together as well as separately.
Honor Byford, Chair, Road Safety GB

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+9

Your point, Duncan, 'If the road transport industry had adopted the same safety culture that the shipping and air transport industries had adopted then we would all be much better off as a result.' - is an excellent one in my view.
Nigel Albright

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+4

Noted again, Matt.
But airbags, seat belts and the like are (in my view) best described as damage limitation devices, rather than safety devices per se. The best way to approach it is to avoid the crash in the first place and that, once again comes down to the human factor. It's perfectly possible; it's just that most people will spend inordinate time and money learning, for example, golf or whatever their hobby is, but they won't spend the time learning how to avoid to the crash in the first place. If they did that they wouldn't need all these gizmos on the cars.

I remember talking with one chap who had this new BMW with wheel lockup sensors on each wheel etc. I asked him what he thought of the car. His reply was, 'Fabulous. No matter what speed it goes into the bend it will get you out the other side'. There, I thought, goes the next crash waiting to happen and one driver to steer (sic!) well clear of on the road. And that is just one example of the sort of general attitude found on the roads.

It's a bit like the experiment in Denmark (I think it was) where by removing traffic lights at a junction it actually became safer because drivers felt more vulnerable and took more care. In other words there was a sort of role reversal and they started to take ownership of their own safety.

Just take away the gizmos and make people think (you might have to have a measure of prosecution to boot) and the roads will become safer. The gizmos are really a part of the motor industry pandering to the general public's perception of safety. But drivers they do get it wrong then, yes, the airbags, for example can limit the consequences (providing they are not killed). But they can't eliminate the emotional and collateral trauma which can go on for years. As above, best not to get into the crash in the first place.
Nigel Albright

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+5

Technology doesn't solve problems it just moves them somewhere else and creates new ones along the way.

I also think it's about time that we killed off this idea that 'human error' is the cause of 70/80/90% of accidents. Human error cannot cause accidents because these errors are symptoms of deeper problems within the system and not actually problems in themselves. We apply the overly simplistic label of human error because it helps explain away difficult and complex processes with a simple label that people think they understand.

On the point of the sinking of the Herald of Free Enterprise in Zeebrugge, rather than marking the point where everything went wrong for the maritime safety industry, it actually marked the point where everything actually started going right. It was only after Zeebrugge that the Marine Accidents Investigation Branch was formed and the old fault and blame culture was finally consigned to the dustbin of history. By replacing fault and blame with a learning culture the MAIB has had a significant and beneficial effect on the overall safety of ships and shipping.

The road transport industry has no equivalent of the MAIB and that is why it is practically impossible to learn from accidents and prevent their recurrence. If the road transport industry had adopted the same safety culture that the shipping and air transport industries had adopted then we would all be much better off as a result. The trouble is that it often takes a major disaster such as Zeebrugge to galvanise the government into creating this type of agency and bring in the new ideas and new thinking that addresses real problems.
Duncan MacKillop. No surprise - No accident.

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-3

Nigel,
There are very few people who would dispute that advances in vehicles have been responsible for a large portion of the reductions in road casualties over the last 3 to 4 decades. Seatbelts, airbags, ABS, ESC, improvements to crash structures, laminated windscreens, tyre compounds, deformable steering wheels, anti-submarine seats and side impact protection are just a handful of examples.

This is an ever evolving industry which has a strong track record of delivering safety technologies that work. I'm certainly not overlooking the Nottingham University report as it is very important to consider how these individual technological advances are used by real drivers in the real world, not just in a test environment, but in arguing that adding technology in general can actually work in reverse you are ignoring a wealth of evidence of casualty reduction over the last 40 years or more.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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+6

I recall in the 1960s as everyday family cars were being fitted with disc brakes rather than drums, you would see stickers to that effect, on the rear as a warning to following drivers!

Some refuse collection/highway maintenance vehicles have stickers on the rear saying "Caution: vehicle may stop suddenly" or words to that effect. Perhaps all vehicles should have them - not just AEB equipped!
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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0

Noted, Matt.
My point is that the crashes happen because people don't pay sufficient attention and don't leave enough space. Crashes will reduce when people (aka drivers) have to take ownership of their safety, and that will only happen when Government RS policy moves strongly in that direction. In the meantime there are life skills to learn - it only has to go wrong just once for them to end up permanently injured or, in a coffin, but they won't do it and most are vulnerable to crashes, so (as a general rule) it's their fault if it goes wrong. If, for example you have done a RoADAR (i.e RoSPA) Gold (or higher) you won't be able to say, 'I didn't see it coming'.

It's an understandable rationale that if you combine the technology with driver that might make things better but, it seems you are overlooking the highly important Nottingham University Psychology Department report that the more safety bolt-ons you add the more the driver relies on them and the less attentive they are to the task in hand. So adding technology can actually work in reverse, and I think it probably does in general.
Nigel Albright

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+4

How many of us, when buying a new, or newish, car would look for one that had AEB as a standard feature? I've never bought a car particularly because it had certain safety features - they tend to come as part of the package anyway. I like having ABS as it is essential in the ice and snow as no-one can cadence brake as fast as an ABS system, but I wouldn't be bothered if my car did not have AEB, although I can't help wondering if it would have helped in the case of the fatal accident in Glasgow when the driver blacked out at the wheel of the refuse wagon.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+2

Nigel, if human error is a factor in 95% of collisions you can't rely on a driver to prevent them.

The main question with these new technologies is whether the combination of driver and technology is more reliable than driver alone (or for argument's sake technology alone) in preventing collisions?
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

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+4

It is also interesting to note in today's news that the greater the use of tablet computers by children the less well they do in exam results. Just another example (if it is true) that the less the brain has to work the less it will work or, as someone succinctly observed some years ago, 'What you don't use, you lose', - if you don't use it it falls into disrepair, be it brain, limb or whatever. So, again the more safety gizmos you add to a vehicle the less the driver has to think for themselves, and there really is no substitute for the Mark 1 eyeball.
Nigel Albright

Agree (7) | Disagree (3)
+4

Matt,

1: You can rely on a driver to prevent collisions, if they pay enough attention (the clues are always there) and if they have sufficient forward observation and planning. 98% of crashes are human error and most follow so closely so that if anything goes pear shaped in front of them they have no chance. It was apparently shown by Nottingham University Psychology Department some years ago that the more so called safety bolt ons there are the more the driver relies on them and, therefore the less ownership they take of their own safety - and therefore, by implication, the less safe they are on the roads. The more you pander to the lowest common denominator the worse things become.

It is interesting to observe that a current Fiat advert goes back to the original German promo for ABS where a vehicle deviates on a dual carriageway to avoid a vehicle emerging from a side road. In the first place that is seriously a matter of lack of observation and planning. Ford copied this with a tractor emerging on the brown of a hill! They subsequently withdrew the advert. So you can't rely on car manufacturers to know and understand road safety. Their interests are primarily commercial; their apparent interest in RS is what will sell cars - largely to the largely uninformed and unknowing.

2: This paragraph seems to me littered with jargon which is symptomatic of academics who love to over analyse and departmentalise things. Academic interest in road safety spiralled after the outcome of the Zeebrugge ferry disaster; many of which it seems to me sit behind desks analysing figures and making great papers out it. Some can't even drive - a least there was certainly one a few years ago who couldn't. Being safe on the roads is not rocket science; it's largely a matter of being properly attentive (which most are not) and applying common sense, since most crashes occur through fundamentally stupid behaviour. And considering that most, if spot tested today, would fail their standard driving test.
Nigel Albright

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+1

I note that the photograph used shows a car avoiding crashing into a "fabric tent". Perhaps the designers would have demonstrated more confidence in their product if they had shown a car avoiding crashing into a concrete block!
Rod King, 20's Plenty for Us

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+9

The previous comments identify some key ergonomics issues with AEB:

1. It cannot be relied on by the driver to prevent a collision
2. It is not 100% accurate in identifying "critical situations"

Firstly, not all AEB systems are the same. Most systems have been designed so that the AEB activates very late and brakes very hard to remove the likelihood drivers will rely on it as it brakes far later than drivers normally would. This is why most systems will have a low design speed for full avoidance, but may offer mitigation for collisions at higher speeds. Some, I would argue "better systems", include a pre-warning so the driver can take action themselves and deactivate as soon as they detect avoidance action being taken by the driver. The systems are also sometimes combined with other pre-crash measures such as seat-belt pre-tensioners or closing windows and sunroofs

With issue 2, the problem here is the false positives as they create a new "critical event" in the case of any following vehicle. An element of unreliability in the false negative scenario would be more acceptable. I would suggest the system manufacturers would welcome feedback from users where "near misses" have occurred, such as those described, so that systems can be refined and improved.
Matt Staton, Cambridgeshire

Agree (10) | Disagree (1)
+9

I too remain deeply distrusting of this feature. I came across an instance in which a driver was negotiating a left hand bend in lane two of a dual carriageway with a break in the central barriers to accommodate drivers turning right. There was a car waiting to turn right in the central reservation and as the driver neared it, the AEB activated. Luckily, there was no vehicle following him closely and he survived the heart-stopping experience.

As with most safety features, many drivers will use up the potential advantage by simply increasing their speed in the belief that the system will save them. They need to bear in mind that the rules of physics have not been changed, and they never will. Will AEB intervene earlier in wet, or icy conditions to take account of longer braking distances? I doubt it.
David, Suffolk

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+17

Oh, dear. Another gizmo for incompetent drivers. I knew the Devon and Cornwal Chief Constable's driver, who (obviously) was one of the best on the force. The chief's new car was a Granada with this brand new system called ABS. I asked Alan what he thought of it. His simply reply was, 'If you need it you are doing it wrong', as with many of the so called safety features on modern cars. It has been shown that the more such features there are, the less the driver concentrates on what they are doing; they just encourage more incompetence. Airbags? Not a safety feature per se, in my view they should more properly be called damage limitation devices.
Nigel Albright

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+4

The smart driver can always stop in time - only the fools have to swerve.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+1

Dave is absolutely right - the risk of sudden, unexpected and severe braking in the circumstances he describes or due simply to system failures might well result in more crashes than it prevents.

I would never drive a vehicle fitted with this feature, or for that matter many others now being introduced. The bigger problem is that I am already unable to avoid driving behind one.

Another problem is that in circumstances where an alert driver might be able to avoid a crash by steering and/or accelerating out of trouble, autonomous braking could prevent him doing so.

This highlights yet again a fundamental flaw in teaching safe driving these days - the concentration on braking to a halt with little or no mention of the often better alternatives
Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield

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0

Hugh

My friend didn't seem too worried about the AEB but I'll ask when I next see him.

AEB may be considered the opposite of ABS. When you apply the brakes, ABS releases them, when you don't apply the brakes, AEB applies them. Early ABS was crude but the best modern ABS is accurate and subtle. AEB may well improve considerably as it is developed but none of these systems operate in isolation. Add a device and drivers will change, often in ways they don't consciously realise or that engineers can predict.

I would suggest running AEB within scientific trials when fitted to new government vehicles. The trial would actually save tax-payers money (compared to mandatory AEB) and provide the most accurate evidence possible.
Dave Finney, Slough

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+5

The incidents Dave refers to sound serious enough for the manufacturer to be informed and even Thatcham Research. Does anyone know if the brake lights still come on when the AEB activates? I would hope they would.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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+6

My friend says that the AEB on his new car has activated several times already. On no occasion was an accident going to happen, the system just misinterpreted what was happening.

There was one occasion, though, where the AEB nearly caused a crash. While driving on a dual carriageway with nothing in front, the AEB suddenly slammed the brakes on and the vehicle behind nearly crashed into the back. Something silvery had just blown across the road and the AEB seems to have mistaken it for a vehicle. The driver behind may well have suspected the incident was an attempt at crash-for-cash!

AEB may prevent some crashes, but may cause others. Would it not be wise to delay mandatory fitment of AEB until it's effects as an optional extra are proven to prevent more crashes than it causes?
Dave Finney, Slough

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+13

I believe that one vehicle currently advertised on TV in the on screen info below it says that it works up to 18 mph, far short of the 50 km/h as suggested above. I wonder when such a safe vehicle will end up in a motorway pile up due to human error?

I have to be suspicious of any intervention such as this which may lead drivers to be complacent at the wheel.... but then we are heading towards a total out of human control vehicle anyway. I just wonder how much of the road infrastructure will have to be changed to accommodate such a vehicle and at what cost?
Bob Craven lancs...Space is Safe Campaigner

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+3