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Multi-car crashes “could be history by the end of the next decade” says Insurers’ Research Centre

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Experts at Thatcham Research – the motor insurers’ automotive research facility, believe that multiple vehicle accidents such as the pile-up on the Isle of Sheppey crossing yesterday could be mitigated or avoided altogether with the widespread use of new automatic braking technologies.

“Our thoughts go out to all those injured or traumatised by this terrible crash,” says Peter Shaw, chief executive of Thatcham Research. “We know all too well the effects of such collisions, and ultimately, it is the aim of all those in the insurance and vehicle design sectors to make death or injury on the roads a thing of the past. In recent years great strides have been made by vehicle manufacturers in making stronger, safer cars.”

Thatcham has been researching and testing Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems on behalf of insurers for the last 3 years and has already undertaken an in-depth study of crashes and their causation factors.

A number of major vehicle manufacturers are already providing AEB technologies on their vehicles and such is their effectiveness, as shown in the Thatcham test, that international safety body Euro NCAP will incorporate the test as part of their overall vehicle safety standard in 2014, whilst UK insurers are already offering favourable insurance groupings on vehicles fitted with AEB as standard.

“The evidence from our testing is undeniable and combined with a growing body of real world research and evidence we firmly believe that AEB and other ADAS (Advanced Driver Assist Systems) have a critical role to play in avoiding both common low-speed shunts that can cause injuries such as whiplash, and mitigating some of the horrendous injuries and fatalities that we see as result of higher speed pile-ups,” says Shaw.

“Currently, some 20% of new cars in the UK have an AEB system available and if that rate of development continues we would hope that, by 2030, multiple-vehicle collisions could be history.”