U.K. auto-safety firm Thatcham Research is supporting a call for regulatory intervention to ensure lifesaving technologies such as automated emergency braking (AEB) are standard on all vehicles.
But Thatcham CEO Peter Shaw says this safety push could be achieved voluntarily by the European automotive industry.
In the U.S., following a push by regulatory agency NHTSA and the independent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety, 20 automakers have agreed to make AEB standard on all vehicles in the U.S. by 2022. Several have announced they’ll be in compliance as early as the end of 2017.
“These are major landmarks for vehicle safety, with the U.S. leading the way,” Shaw says. “Europe risks falling behind. Unless we have a similar agreement amongst European vehicle manufacturers, legislation is the only way to go.”
Thatcham says research shows vehicles fitted with AEB are capable of reducing the likelihood of front-to-rear crashes up to 40%. At the current fitment rate the technology has the potential to save 1,130 lives and 126,000 casualties over the next 10 years.
Analysis by Thatcham finds only 2% of vehicles now on the road in the U.K. has AEB as standard. It says this figure is growing but not fast enough – with only 17% of new vehicles offering AEB as standard.
A recent survey conducted by Thatcham and Direct Line Insurance Group in the U.K. also reveals 82% of drivers think safety features such as AEB should be standard.
“We recognize that many vehicle manufacturers, such as Land Rover, have really upped their game in the past few years when it comes to car safety,” Shaw says. “They are pioneering new technologies.”
In 2014, the Land Rover Discovery Sport was awarded five stars by Euro NCAP, its highest safety rating, and is only one of two vehicles in the market that has an external pedestrian airbag.
“If AEB as standard on all vehicles is going to become a reality in Europe, it is going to require collaboration between regulators and everyone in the automotive industry,” Shaw says.
Thatcham Research tests and accredits crash repair parts, vehicle-repair technicians and other products and services within the collision-repair industry.