Thatcham challenges car manufacturers to match US safety pledge

12.00 | 21 September 2015 | | 3 comments

Thatcham Research is calling on leading vehicle manufacturers to extend to Europe a commitment they have made in the US to fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as standard on all new cars.

The 10 manufacturers – Audi, BMW, Ford, General Motors, Mazda, Mercedes-Benz, Tesla, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo – have pledged to make crash prevention technologies more widely available to consumers in America.

A recent report from European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) suggests that low speed AEB technology can lead to a 38% reduction in ‘real-world rear-end crashes’.

Thatcham revealed earlier this month that there are now more than 600,000 AEB-enabled cars on the UK’s roads, equating to 1.7% of all cars, but says more needs to be done to increase that number.

Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research, said: “Manufacturers have taken great strides forward in crash avoidance and mitigation technology, but far too frequently it is standard equipment only in luxury vehicles.

“Volkswagen, Volvo, Mercedes, Nissan and Mazda lead the way in the UK with the highest numbers of cars on our roads with standard fit AEB systems. However, only Volvo has crash prevention technology as standard fit across all models.  

“Currently nearly 30% of new cars in the UK have an AEB system available, but not, in most cases, standard. Equipping all new cars in the UK with AEB would result in a reduction of 17,000 deaths and serious injuries on the UK’s roads in the next decade.”

“As a start-point, the UK alone would see an enormous drop in the number of fatal and serious injury crashes if the high-volume sellers – Ford and Vauxhall – introduced standard-fit AEB.”


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    In the event of a collision where the following car has such a device fitted and working will the cause be shown as human error or computer malfunction? Will the human be held responsible as the device failed to prevent an accident? The driver may have been driving 2 mph over the limit of the device – who is to know? Will we be all getting black boxes as in the aircraft industry so that a total record will be kept of the vehicles usage and the drivers ability? What’s next? As regards an enormous drop in the number of fatal and serious crashes I doubt it as we are only talking of slow speed impacts.

    Bob Craven, Lancs. Space is Safe Campaigner
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    I would urge caution regarding the above report. There is data on AEB in crashes, but none of that is from scientific trials and, as a result, there is nothing meaningful to compare against. The report, therefore, seems to resort to modelling to arrive at the result. Models, though, can be notoriously inaccurate and often reflect the beliefs of the modellers, rather than actual real-world effects. It would be easier, cheaper and far more accurate to run simple scientific trials in the first place. Using such an evidence-led approach could dramatically improve road safety.

    Dave Finney, Slough
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    How about getting the manufacturers to reduce their vehicles’ maximum speeds and unnecessarily fast acceleration times to reduce the likelihood of crashes in the first place?

    Hugh Jones, Cheshire
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