Government should incentivise drivers to choose AEB: Thatcham

12.00 | 25 March 2014 | | 7 comments

A Government incentive to encourage drivers to buy cars with anti-crash technology would save 60 lives and result in 760 fewer serious casualties in three years, according to Thatcham Research.

Thatcham Research, the insurance industry’s automotive research centre, goes on to say that over 10 years such an incentive would save 1,220 lives and nearly 136,000 casualties.

At a briefing at the House of Commons today (25 March), Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, said that in the UK cars equipped with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) have 18% fewer third party injury claims. Mr Shaw said that similar studies from the USA highlighted a 26% reduction in injuries, and in Switzerland and Sweden front/rear crashes have been cut by 31% and 48% respectively.

Thatcham has launched a new campaign, ‘Stop the Crash’, which asks the Treasury to introduce and fund a £500 incentive for people choosing to buy a new car with AEB fitted. It claims that this would result in 100% of the UK new car fleet fitted with AEB by 2025 which could avoid more than 17,000 deaths and serious injuries on the UK’s roads.

Peter Shaw said: “Vehicle technology has been a major factor in cutting UK road deaths from 7,000+ in the 1970s to 1,754 in 2012. 

“An estimated 90% 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.

“A responsible driver who pays extra to reduce the potential impact of their car should benefit from a helping hand from the Government. 

“The time is right to demonstrate to consumers that vehicles with AEB should be their natural choice and we calculate that with a £500 cash incentive  – about half the additional cost of the AEB system – the Government would be meeting the motorist halfway.”

Thatcham says that currently around 23% of new cars have AEB available as optional or standard fit – but less than 10% of cars sold have it fitted. Insurers recognise the benefits, with AEB-fitted cars given a rating of as much as five groups lower than their counterparts, and potentially saving up to 10% on insurance premiums.

Thatcham also says that auto-brake safety not only prevents or reduces the impact for the driver, but the more advanced systems can prevent injury to vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists. 

Click here to access Thatcham’s AEB briefing document, and here for AEB frequently asked questions.

Thatcham Research
Thatcham is a not-for-profit research centre, funded by the insurance industry and with the primary aim of containing or reducing the cost of claims in the areas of vehicle safety, security and repair. It has a fully equipped repair technology centre, a Euro NCAP approved crash facility as well as an adult and apprentice automotive academy, all based at Thatcham in Berkshire.


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    Having had an exciting (if somewhat scary) opportunity to trial this amazing technology at the MIRA centre in Nuneaton last week, courtesy of Roadsafe and the brilliant Thatcham team, I’ve got to say that I’m a total convert. It’s actually possible to get AEB in a car such as a Ford Focus for around the same price as the Sat Nav I bought recently and the technology really does work.

    While it’s obviously counter-intuitive to drive into a ‘parked car’, the AEB worked perfectly every time. Although we humans are resistant to change, I’m pretty certain these will become standard before long and we will soon wonder what life was like before it. Good Egg Drivers endorses AEB and applaud those who have made it possible. We look forward to seeing a reduction in casualties as it advances.

    Jan James CEO Good Egg Drivers
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    Just something else to go wrong like most unnecessary ‘safety’ devices mandatorily fitted to vehicles. Very hard and costly to fix. Now whole vehicles are written-off because of strict new EU MOT regulations about warning lights. How very ‘green’! Many can’t afford brand new cars and have to endure totally astronomical high prices for spare parts.

    Terry Hudson, Kent
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    Olly makes a very good point as even the manufacturers of ABS systems state that there is no point in having the system if you are not well trained and regularly practiced in its use.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    Training is key, how many people have been trained how to use ABS properly? Most will brake hoping not to skid but few will know they can steer at the same time.

    Olly, Lancs
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    There is a sense that many people have decided that automated vehicles will be safer because the unreliable human will have been removed from the control loop. This would be a fair point were it not for the fact that a computer is perhaps the most stupid thing imaginable as it is constrained by rules rather than being guided by them.

    A perfect example of this can be found at the bottom of this page with the ‘Captcha’ box that determines whether a post is being made by a human or a machine. Even with the prodigious amounts of processing power available the computer cannot manage to interpret a few letters and numbers so it rather makes you wonder how it would get on interpreting the complex environment of the road transport system.

    Duncan MacKillop, Stratford on Avon
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    There are undoubtedly benefits from certain vehicle technologies; better brakes, better tyres, better lights, and much more besides that have helped reduce injuries and even death. But when the automative industry begins to claim the machine is better than the human controlling it, we have the admission that we are redundant, and should be removed from the equation.

    What has not been adequately advanced is the education of the driver and rider to the effects of the technological advances made, the effects of the comfort cell in which they drive, and the effects those elements have on the world beyond their cell. There is much to be said for driving and riding machines of a previous age, they bring people closer to reality and make them suddenly aware of just how much their own education and input are so vital to road safety. For far too long we have had devices that are developed and fitted to prevent injury in a crash scenarion while the education to prevent that crash scenario from developing in the first place has been left way behind. The reason of course is all down to cost, and the market always wants what it thinks best regardless of the consequences.

    Derek Reynolds, Salop.
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

    It seems likely that the predictions for accident reductions are based on “other things being equal”. However, and perhaps particularly in this case, drivers’ internal “risk thermostat” will surely lead to them driving that much faster and more dangerously if they think the automatic braking system will save them if they make a mistake. I certainly drive my 1939 car with cable brakes and narrow tyres more carefully than I do my modern one!

    Idris Francis Fight Back With Facts Petersfield
    Agree (0) | Disagree (0)

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