Britain’s roads could be about to get much safer after a landmark EU proposal that would see advanced safety technology compulsory in all new cars was announced yesterday.
What is AEB?
Advanced (or Autonomous) Emergency Braking (AEB) systems can help avoid crashes or mitigate their severity by warning the driver and supporting braking response and/or applying the brakes independently of the driver.
The European Commission (EC) proposal, part of a wider package of measures, would see safety technology such as Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB) and Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) mandated in all new cars. The rules would start to come into effect from 2020.
AEB is a lifesaving crash avoidance system and cars fitted with the technology have a 38 per cent reduction in real-world rear-end crashes, according to Thatcham Research, which has calculated that it has the potential to save 1,100 lives and more than 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years.
Matthew Avery, Director of Research at Thatcham Research, comments: “Just as seatbelts are a legal requirement on all cars and vans, AEB should be as well. We have campaigned for many years for it to be standard on all vehicles, and with the latest AEB systems now capable of identifying pedestrians and cyclists, there is an opportunity for the UK Government to address the growing number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities. We would hope that no blockers are put in the way by carmakers or parliamentarians around making these technologies mandatory on all UK cars and vans as soon as possible.”
Reluctance from drivers to pay for optional extras
Currently in the UK only 30 per cent of cars on sale have AEB as standard, as it is mostly offered as an optional extra. Of the top 10 best-selling UK car brands in 2017, only one (Land Rover) had 100 per cent fitment across their model range, while significantly, the top two car brands (Ford and Vauxhall) had only 7 per cent and 14 per cent fitment across their entire car range.
Road safety charity Brake highlight that there is a current lack of awareness amongst drivers around technology such as AEB – making its compulsory fitting all the more important.
What is ISA?
Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) helps a driver keep within speed limits by warning the driver when the speed limit is exceeded, or by actively reducing the vehicle’s speed.
According to Brake 58 per cent of drivers said they didn’t know what AEB was. When the technology was explained, only 15 per cent thought their car was fitted with AEB, with 12 per cent unsure. While 67 per cent of drivers said they didn’t know what ISA was and when the technology was explained, only 15 per cent thought their car was fitted with ISA, with 7 per cent unsure.
Despite that 9 in 10 drivers agree that all new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard.
Highlighting the potential importance of the landmark EU ruling, the majority of drivers in Brake’s poll of 2,000 said that they would not be willing to spend more to option AEB or ISA onto their vehicle as an extra.
Joshua Harris, director of campaigns at road safety charity Brake, said: “These technologies are proven to save lives, so this announcement should be warmly welcomed by all who are truly committed to improving road safety. Drivers want their vehicles to be safe, but the reality is they rarely opt to spend more on safety features as optional extras. This decision puts the onus for safety back on the car manufacturers and in one swoop, will dramatically improve the safety of our roads forever.”
Neil Ingram, Head of Motor Product Management at Direct Line, said: “Technological advancements in vehicle safety have the ability to save countless lives, however, when someone purchases a new car they are not always willing to pay extra for safety features. With improvements in the road casualty rate stalling, the fitting of AEB and ISA as standard on all new cars has the potential to be the step-change in road safety we have been looking for. Such technologies can not only reduce the needless deaths and injuries on our roads, but also continue the progression and growth, as well as driver acceptance, of semi-autonomous vehicles and the benefits in safety they can bring.”
As well as new safety rules, the European Commision’s Third Mobility Package includes new CO2 emissions standards for heavy-duty vehicles and a promise of greater investment in Europe’s road infrastructure.