Volvo puts brakes on insurance costs

You might not think that the trusty old Volvo would be at the cutting edge of technological innovation, but its new ground-breaking brake system has left rivals trailing in its wake. The pioneering, if not-very-catchily-named, City Safety Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system, is now fitted as standard on all Volvo models and is even helping to drive down insurance costs.
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Every make and model of car falls into one of 50 different insurance groups – the higher the number group, the more expensive your car insurance premiums will be, so the lower the group the better. Volvo’s braking system effectively makes its cars safer, and so has led to the insurance ratings of all new Volvo cars falling by up to four groups. According to Volvo, savings as a result of this can be as much as around £150 a year, although of course the actual saving you make will depend on your age, driving experience and claims history. So far, over a million Volvos fitted with the new technology have been sold, and anyone buying a new model will benefit. But how does the City Safety braking system actually work?

Common sensor solution

Basically, there’s a sensor at the top of your windscreen which monitors the area 10 metres ahead of the car. If the sensor detects that you’re about to collide with another car, then the system ‘pre-charges’ the brakes, making the braking system more sensitive so that when you apply the brakes the car responds more quickly. The system only works at speeds of up to 31mph, hence the ‘City Safety’ name, as it is in built-up areas that you are most likely to be driving at low speeds. If the driver doesn’t spot an imminent danger, the system automatically applies the brakes very hard. Although this won’t mean you’ll avoid a collision (unless you are travelling at a very low speed of 10mph or less), it does mean the speed of the impact is reduced. The system deactivates if the driver tries to accelerate sharply or steers to avoid an accident. Not only does the City Safety system reduce accident rates and repair costs, it also prevents expensive personal injury claims for whiplash which can happen if you shunt someone from behind, and rules out the need to provide a hire vehicle while a driver’s car is in for repair.

Radar love

City Safety isn’t the only technology Volvo has introduced to protect drivers and to try to reduce the likelihood of accidents. New Volvo cars also have a Pedestrian Detection with Full Auto Brake system installed. A radar system is built into the car’s grille and this, combined with the camera at the top of the windscreen, can identify a human above 80cm tall. If you’re about to hit a pedestrian, the car will warn you with lights and an audible signal and also will pre-charge the brakes, again using the full braking force independently if no action is taken by the driver. You can also get Cyclist Detection to work in conjunction with the Pedestrian system, which works in the same way. This is available as an optional extra across the Volvo range, with the exception of the XC90 model. With many of us struggling to cover steep living costs, anything which can help reduce insurance costs should be welcomed. Hopefully, more car companies will follow Volvo’s lead so that premiums will eventually fall across the board, and road safety generally will improve. To give some idea of just what sort of impact this might have, according to the European Commission, widespread adoption of AEB could reduce accidents by up to 27%, potentially saving a massive 8,000 lives a year and reducing insurance claims by up to a staggering £6.3 billion. Let’s hope more manufacturers follow suit as soon as possible to make this a reality.

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