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Auto-braking cars should be subsidised by Government to save thousands of lives

James Temperton
25 Mar 2014
Autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
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If more people used cars with automatic emergency brakes thousands of lives could be saved, according to new motor industry research

Thousands of deaths and injuries caused by human error could be prevented if more people drove modern cars with automatic emergency brakes.

The Government is now being urged to step in and accelerate the take-up of cars with so-called autonomous emergency braking (AEB) by offering £500 to people as an incentive.

In just over 10 years such an incentive could save 1,220 lives and prevent nearly 136,000 casualties, according to Thatcham Research, the insurance industry’s automotive research centre.

Only 23 per cent of new cars sold today have AEB as an optional or standard fit, while less than 10 per cent of cars specify if they come with the technology at all.

AEB is a general term for a range of technologies that help a car detect when it needs to brake. By using radar, lasers and optical sensors AEB is able to detect other vehicles and even pedestrians. Using this data a car is able to apply the brakes, avoiding collisions and preventing loss of life and injury.

Thatcham explained that 90 per cent of road crashes are caused by human error or distraction, while third party insurance claims for cars fitted with AEB are 18 per cent lower than the industry average.

“Vehicle technology has been a major factor in cutting UK road deaths from 7,000 plus in the 1970s to 1,754 in 2012,” said Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research.

He called on the Government to “meet motorists halfway” by offering a £500 cash incentive to anyone buying a car with AEB. Thatcham estimates that the average cost of fitting the technology to a new car is £1,000.

The use of AEB in cars could further reduce casualties on UK roads. In 2012 alone 420 pedestrians and 118 cyclists were killed.

“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,” Shaw said.

To see AEB in action, watch the video below:

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