Insurers demand auto braking tech

Automatic braking systems should be fitted to all new cars to cut personal injury claims by almost a fifth and make car insurance cheaper, according to an organisation which represents the insurance industry.
The Association of British Insurers (ABI) has called for all UK motor manufacturers to fit autonomous emergency braking (AEB) on all new cars, and claims doing so could lead to an 18% reduction in personal injury claims arising from road traffic accidents. Here’s a look at what AEB is, how it works and whether it could make our roads safer.

Artificial intelligence

Autonomous (or Automated/Automatic) Emergency Braking systems apply a car’s brakes if an imminent collision is detected and the driver fails to take action. On a mechanical level, cars with AEB systems use RADAR, LIDAR or cameras to detect potential collisions before the brakes are applied. The image of the road ahead, any objects on the road, their speed and trajectory and the risk of collision are assessed algorithmically in real-time by an on-board computer, and a ‘decision’ is taken on how to apply the brakes. Here’s a short video from Euro NCAP, the European car safety ratings programme, to explain in more detail: Clever stuff, you’ll no doubt agree.


According to Euro NCAP, 90% of road accidents are caused by drivers who are either distracted or not paying attention. AEB acts as a failsafe against this, and performance data shows crash avoidance systems like AEB can reduce accidents by up to a third. But only 23% of vehicles on British roads right now have AEB systems. Scott Pendry, ABI’s motor policy adviser, said: “This must change. Fitting this technology as the norm will not only further improve road safety, but will significantly lower insurance costs as AEB is taken into account in the motor insurance group rating system.” All registered cars are allocated to a group between 1 and 50 by insurers, with the group being used to aid premium calculations. Cars in 1 are generally cheaper to insure, with costs rising as the group number gets higher.


As an incentive to get manufacturers to fit AEB systems as standard to all new cars, the NCAP rating system was changed so that you cannot get a coveted 5-star rating without automatic braking. But take-up by manufacturers has still been slow, according to Pendry. In a report submitted to the European Commission in 2008, it was estimated that it costs vehicle manufacturers around £250 per vehicle to implement Automated Emergency Braking, but the report also stated that this figure is seen as an underestimate by manufacturers, given that it doesn’t take development costs into consideration. Volvo claims its City Safety AEB system can save drivers up to £150 a year, as its cars featuring the tech fall into lower car insurance groups than comparable motors without AEB.

Stop and think

Even if your car is one of the 1 in 4 vehicles with AEB, you still need to stay focused on the road, be vigilant on the roads and adhere to the appropriate ‘thinking and stopping’ distances. The Highway Code recommends the following thinking and braking distances:
Speed Thinking distance (metres) Braking distance (metres)
20mph 6m 6m
30mph 9m 14m
40mph 12m 24m
50mph 15m 38m
60mph 18m 55m
70mph 21m 75m

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