The UK government should encourage drivers to buy vehicles equipped with autonomous emergency braking systems as such cars have an 18 per cent lower probability of being involved in a car crash.
According to data gathered by the insurance industry’s motor research centre in Thatcham, about 90 per cent of road crashes are due to human error or distraction – something the autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems could help mitigate.
During his talk in Westminster yesterday, Thatcham's chief executive Peter Shaw called for support for his company's Stop the Crash campaign which plans to ask the Treasury to introduce and fund a £500 incentive for those choosing to buy new cars fitted with the AEB.
Shaw believes such a scheme would see 100 per cent of the UK new car fleet fitted with AEB by 2025, avoiding more than 17,000 deaths and serious injuries on the UK's roads in a decade from 2015.
AA President Edmund King commented on the initiative: "Every now and then a new safety technology comes along that is worthy of widespread uptake as it will save lives. We have seen this with seatbelts, airbags, antilock brakes, electronic stability control and now we have the chance to embrace AEB.”
However, he said, such technologies tend to be rather expensive, at the initial stages. That means only few customers usually opt for them as they frequently are only an option in more expensive vehicles.
"We need to encourage manufacturers to make AEB available further down their model ranges and we need to encourage car buyers, including fleet buyers, to specify AEB when choosing new cars,” he said.
The Stop the Crash campaign is designed to do just that.
Currently, only 23 per cent of new cars on sale have AEB as optional or standard fit.
"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 Shaw.
"A responsible driver who pays extra to reduce the potential impact of their car should benefit from a helping hand from the Government."
According to the Thatcham research centre, an average cost per a road traffic injury is some £90,000. Further, about 550,000 whiplash claims are being made in the UK annually, costing £2bn and adding £90 to the average car insurance premium.