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Car manufacturers urged to make autonomous emergency braking standard

A consumer car publication has urged manufacturers to make autonomous emergency braking (AEB) a standard feature because ‘thousands’ of lives could be saved.

Making AEB standard on all UK cars could reduce fatal crashes by up to 25 per cent and injuries by 35 per cent, according to research by the University of Adelaide in Australia highlighted by What Car ─ and the technology only costs car manufacturers around £40.

It said AEB, which automatically applies the brakes in the event of an imminent collision (be that with a cyclist, another car or pedestrian), is an option on 95 per cent of all new cars, yet only 1.6 per cent of consumers choose to pay extra for it.

What Car editorial director Jim Holder said: “When seatbelts became compulsory for front seat occupants of cars in 1983, the number of drivers killed or seriously injured dropped dramatically, almost overnight.

“The evidence is irrefutable – AEB saves lives. Just as all new cars now come with stability control, so autonomous emergency braking should be standard fit for all mainstream cars.”

Cars fitted with AEB can see another benefit in the form of slightly cheaper insurance premiums, the publication noted.

At least two major safety bodies are in favour of making AEB a legal requirement on all new cars, including European independent car testers Euro NCAP, which gives cars a star-rating out of five for how well a car performs in the event of an accident.

Meanwhile safety and security experts Thatcham Research says AEB would make cars much safer than electronic stability control (ESC), which helps the driver regain control of a car.

Thatcham research director Matthew Avery added: “ESC helps prevent single-vehicle crashes where the driver loses control. Front-to-rear impacts are much more common; in fact they make up around a quarter of all crashes.”

The three-point seatbelt, which became compulsory for front seat occupants in 1983, was invented in 1959 by Nils Bohlin from Sweden, who was working for Volvo at the time. Could AEB become the next most significant standard safety feature on a car?

Speaking of safety, Euro NCAP said it will begin testing of pedestrian safety systems from 2016.

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