One in five fatal and serious collisions could be prevented with the introduction of automated vehicles, according to new research.
The study, carried out by TRL, considered a scenario where traditional and autonomous vehicles coexist on UK roads – looking specifically at one and two vehicle collisions.
It concluded 22% of collisions – in which one of the vehicles was replaced by a ‘level 4’ automated vehicle – could be avoided.
This type of vehicle is controlled for the entire dynamic driving task, so that the human driver is not required or expected to intervene.
Based on the prediction that 8%-19% of the total car fleet will be autonomous by 2040, the report estimates that up to 650 fatal and serious injury collisions could be prevented annually.
It also suggests there will be a reduction in collisions at junctions (10%), collisions involving vulnerable road users (10%) and single vehicle run off road collisions (12%).
However, the report bemoans a lack of publicly available data on the introduction of automated technology and its behaviour in near misses and collision scenarios.
Richard Cuerden, director of the TRL Academy, said: “Our analysis suggests the introduction of automated vehicles to our roads is likely to bring the biggest change in road safety since the introduction of the seatbelt.
“However, more data is needed to build a more in-depth and robust view of future collisions and opportunities for improving occupant protection.
“It is also essential to ensure the right high-tech expertise is in place to investigate collisions that involve automated vehicle technologies so that lessons can be learnt as quickly as possible to determine how improvements can be made in the future.”