If all cars were fitted with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) 271,000 crashes a year could be mitigated or avoided altogether, according to Thatcham.
AEB systems, which are becoming more widely available, identify potential collisions and automatically apply emergency braking when they detect the driver has not applied sufficient braking and is not attempting to steer away.
For fleet managers the technology ticks the duty of car box as well as bringing potential cost savings.
Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham, said. “The technology can mitigate and prevent serious injuries, reduce the severity of damage to vehicles and over time should drive down claims costs.”
The Government is also backing the benefits of AEB. Patricia Hayes, director for roads at the Department for Transport, said: “We encourage the insurance industry to think early about this technology.
"It’s a potential win win – there are road safety benefits and potential car insurance cuts.”
But fleets are slow to adopt this type of technology according to RoadSafe.
A recent study across 10 European countries investigating car users’ acceptance of eSafety technologies (such as electronic stability control, blind spot monitoring and AEB) placed Britain last for awareness of four of the six systems.
Adrian Walsh, director of RoadSafe, said: “Thousands more lives could be saved and injuries avoided if these systems were more widely used.”
How the technology works
Automatic braking was first seen with Adaptive Cruise Control whereby a radar unit mounted on the front grille monitors the road ahead and manipulates the car engine and brake controls to maintain and adjust speed to keep a safe distance.
Developments in sensing technologies have led to better object detection with some AEB systems sensitive enough to detect pedestrians.
Cheaper systems have more limited functions.
For instance, Ford’s Active City Stop, which uses LIDAR (Light Detection and Ranging sensor), works at low speeds only and is designed to addresses front into rear crashes.
Cameras sensors are also a low cost option and are capable of distinguishing pedestrians. However, their performance is poor in low light and adverse weather.
Meanwhile, radar sensors are more expensive and can work at speeds up to 125mph and can cover a distance of 200m ahead of the car, but the most expensive option is sensor fusion whereby cameras and radar sensors work together.
An AEB test group – which Thatcham is a member of – is developing standardised test procedures to rate the performance of AEB systems and advise which systems are better than others.
Ford’s Active City Stop, Honda’s Collision Mitigation Brake System, Mercedes-Benz’s Pre-Safe Brake and Volvo’s City Safety have all been awarded EuroNCAP advanced.