Automatic emergency braking systems should be fitted as standard to every new car, and the Government should help car makers to do so, says insurance research body Thatcham Research.
The technology, which Thatcham Research calls autonomous emergency braking (AEB), identifies obstacles in the car's path and automatically applies the brakes if the driver fails to respond to the situation. Some AEB systems work at higher speeds than others, but all operate below around 20mph – the speed at which 75% of all accidents occur.
At present, 23% cars have AEB technology, Thatcham's view is that the sooner AEB is available in every car, the sooner the number of accidents will be reduced and with them all associated costs. This includes a cut in the number of claims for whiplash, which add, on average, £90 to every car insurance premium in the UK.
In order to increase the number of new cars on the roads with AEB as quickly as possible, Thatcham will ask the Treasury to provide a £500 cashback incentive for all customers who buy a car with AEB between 2015 and 2019. The hope is that this will boost sales of cars with the tech fitted, and force manufacturers who do not provide it to catch up.
'AEB is by far the most significant of all the new Advanced Driver Assist Systems available,' says Thatcham chief executive Peter Shaw. 'It has the potential to be as important a breakthrough as the seatbelt as in terms of vehicle safety. The clear safety and insurance benefits, alongside our proposed fiscal incentive, means choosing AEB on your next vehicle really is a no-brainer.'