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Drivers urged to insist on autonomous braking

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Road safety campaigners are urging motorists to insist on having autonomous emergency braking (AEB) when they purchase their next car to help save the lives of vulnerable road users.

The call comes after the Government’s annual road casualty statistics, released last week, showed that last year there were 25,893 people killed or seriously injured in reported road traffic accidents. This was up 6% from the 2010-2014 average and included 448 pedestrian and 102 cyclist deaths.

But experts estimate that AEB systems – which automatically apply the brakes to avoid an impending crash with another vehicle, pedestrian or cyclist – could potentially save 1100 lives and 122,860 casualties in the UK over the next 10 years.

“AEB has been demonstrated to reduce the number and severity of accidents, and can therefore contribute to a further reduction in casualties on UK roads,” said RAC Motoring Services chief engineer David Bizley.

“It will be fitted as standard on new vehicles from the early 2020s but until then, the RAC is encouraging members and indeed all purchasers of new vehicles to select models fitted with pedestrian and cyclist AEB.”

IAM RoadSmart chief executive officer Sarah Sillars added: “Road safety is a shared responsibility and if individuals and fleets ensure their new cars are fitted with AEB we can all make a contribution to safer roads for vulnerable users now.”

And Thatcham Research chief executive Peter Shaw said: “There’s an urgent need to change the consumer and fleet mindset around car safety, especially when AEB can cost as little as £200. Safety should be a deal breaker, not a ‘nice to have’. If it doesn’t have AEB, it shouldn’t be a sale.”

The Road Haulage Association has also backed the calls. “AEB systems have been fitted as standard to almost all newly registered heavy goods vehicles since November 2015,” said its chief executive Richard Burnett.

“No matter how good a driver’s skills may be, the road network remains a dangerous place. Any measure that can be taken to reduce that danger is an obvious solution to a longstanding and distressing problem.”