Road Safety News

Research centre publishes AEB fitment guide

Wednesday 20th July 2016

Eight of the UK’s top 10 best-selling cars now offer five-star crash protection alongside some availability of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology, according to a new guide produced by Thatcham Research.

Three of the top 10 offer standard fit AEB on more than 70% of the model range, but just one, the Mercedes-Benz C-Class, has 100% availability.

Thatcham’s new AEB fitment guide shows that the majority of the most popular cars in Britain now offer five-star crash protection, but standard fitment of Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) is still only available on half of them (52%).

By monitoring the road ahead using sensor and camera technology, Thatcham says AEB ‘has been shown to reduce low-speed crashes by up to 40%’ by automatically braking to avoid a collision with another car or a pedestrian, if the driver hasn’t responded.

Peter Shaw, Thatcham Research chief executive, said: “It is right to acknowledge the achievements of car makers in providing us with safe cars that offer excellent protection in the event of a crash.

“However, preventing the crash from happening in the first place now must be the focus and that starts with having AEB as standard.

“Prioritising fitment to the best-sellers will make the biggest contribution to reducing the number of crashes on our roads, as well as encouraging other car makers to follow suit.”

The Mercedes C-Class has AEB as standard across its entire range, while the Volkswagen Golf and the Nissan Qashqai also have ‘commendable’ levels of standard fitment (83% and 71% respectively) and optional availability on most other trim levels.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Vauxhall Corsa – the UKs second best-selling car – is not available with AEB at all, and the best-selling Ford Fiesta only offers the technology as an optional extra, and this on only just over half of the model range.

Thatcham Research is calling on all car makers to embrace the highest levels of active safety technology.

Peter Shaw added: “Vehicle manufacturers could choose to publicly commit to making AEB standard by 2022 on all new cars sold in the UK.

“20 of the best-known car brands have already done exactly that in the United States and we’d welcome the same commitment in the UK.”


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Charles: Firstly yes, there have been studies and apologies for suggesting you had invented them. I haven't read them in detail, however what I did read, once I'd got past the incomprehensible jargon e.g. "...categorical ordered response variable, and mixed-effects-logistic-regression models...", they seemed to me to be based on analysis and artificial, controlled scenarios and not everyday real-life behaviour.

I don't think there has to be a research paper published for everything we can observe and perceive for ourselves. I thought your reference to studies meant comprehensive, irrefutable evidence based on discreet examinations of possibly thousands of motorists' behaviour which would be difficult to measure with confidence.

Put it this way, if there's a non-belted driver behind me, I'm extra cautious to compensate for them! If there's a speeder or a tailgater near me - whether it's an ultra-modern performance car laden with safety features, or a 1976 Austin Allegro I'm equally cautious - it's not the spec of the cars I worry about, it's who's behind the wheel and the behaviour they're exhibiting.

Personally if I was forced to drive without seat belts or ABS or air bags or AEB, I don't think it would affect my driving style, but having to drive with weak 'standard' brakes would - still the most important safety feature.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (3) | Disagree (3)

Hugh (re: your reply on risk compensation studies), yes, as I wrote, I don't have a list of all road safety studies at my fingertips, so I gave a link to an article which discussed the subject in general and which should have provided some search cues. However, I can spoon feed you with some specific studies if you like...

* Janssen (1994). "Seat-belt wearing and driving behavior: An instrumented-vehicle study". (
* Reinhardt-Rutland (2001). "Seat-belts and behavioural adaptation: the loss of looming as a negative reinforcer". (
* Adams (1994). "Seat belt legislation: the evidence revisited". (

* Farmer, Lund, Trempel and Braver (1997). "Fatal crashes of passenger vehicles before and after adding antilock braking systems". (

Clearance given to helmeted and unhelmeted cyclists:
* Walker (2007). "Drivers overtaking bicyclists: Objective data on the effects of riding position, helmet use, vehicle type and apparent gender". (

Road characteristics and driver speed choice:
* Gitelman (2016). "The Identification of Infrastructure Characteristics Influencing Travel Speeds on Single-carriageway Roads to Promote Self-explaining Roads". (
* Gargoum (2016). "Towards setting credible speed limits: Identifying factors that affect driver compliance on urban roads". (
Charles, England

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Whether or not one can find studies that confirm that people compensate when provided with additional safety factors, my common sense leads me to believe in its existence. If someone forced me to ride my motorcycle while dressed in shorts and T-shirt, without a crash helmet, there is no doubt in my mind that I'd ride more slowly than if I had been clad in my normal protective gear.
David, Suffolk

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I should have made it a bit clearer in my last post, but additional safety features like AEB and ABS are there as a back-up for emergencies only and should not be incorporated into one's driving style as a matter of course. If both activate regularly in one's driving, there is something drastically wrong!
Hugh Jones

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Yes, you're correct, whoops! The brakes on the kit car are massive, they're the biggest that can fit within the wheels I have on it.

I went on a dry skid pan experience day a couple of years ago, and the first thing that the instructor did was demonstrate what braking without ABS was like, and how to brake to take that lack of ABS into account.

Well, it will eventually be a thing where people won't need to be reminded that a car has AEB - there'll just be a presumption that it's there, much like ABS. I remember when I was young, every car out there it seemed had several letters as its trim definer, followed by "ABS" on the rear boot lid or something.

(and then someone drives a car without AEB and whoops!)
David Weston, Corby

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Your kit car does a safety fetaure David - the brakes! I know kit cars can be a bit basic, but I presume you don't have to put your right foot through a hole in the floor on to the road surface everytime you need to stop?

I suspect a lot of drivers don't know what the ABS is, or does, or what to expect if and when it kicks in, so being prepared by testing in a controlled manner on a slippery surface (wet grass, ice etc.) is a good idea.

There is perhaps a dangerous misconception that ABS reduces stopping distances per se, when in fact it just helps prevent wheel lock-up which otherwise would extend the stopping distance if the grip was poor and should also allow the vehicle to be steered.
I wonder if, a few decades ago, as drum brakes gave way to discs and servos became standard, did drivers alter their driving styles to compensate then as well? Not declaring that a vehicle has AEB at all, might be a good idea to prevent drivers from adjusting their driving style - it's only there for an emergency.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Two points:

I know of at least one person who had adjusted their driving style to accommodate AEB. As in, they relied on it. They no longer have that vehicle due to financial reasons, but still, yeah, people are now beginning to "rely" on it.

Additionally, regarding ABS - I agree. When I'm in my daily driver (BMW 320d F31) I've realised that I do brake a tad bit later, etc, because I *know* the car can handle it. Might be something to do with having tested how good it can stop in an emergency but ho hum.

I drive the other car I have use of (kit car - no ABS, no power steering, no safety features apart from a rollbar) gingerly as heck though. Having no safety aids really does make you think about car behaviour!!
David Weston, Corby

Agree (4) | Disagree (1)

Thanks Charles. I've looked at it and it's an article by an individual on a wide range of risk compensation issues, rather than a 'study' although the crucial bit is as follows: "...a senior vice president for the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety...(said) "We've done a number of studies and did not find any evidence" that drivers change their behavior while wearing them (meaning seat belts)."

Those studies seem to contradict what you said earlier. I'm confident the other studies don't exist either. I've often found that if someone's assertion doesn't sound quite right, chances are it probably isn't.
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

Agree (6) | Disagree (5)

Hugh, the studies are numerous and far flung, and I don't have a definitive list of them all at my fingertips; but here is a link to an article that should help whet your appetite and help provide search ideas to start your quest for further knowledge in this area:
Charles, England

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So...could you refer me to the studies then please Charles?
Hugh Jones, Cheshire

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Hugh, yes I am very sure about those studies. I could understand why those with only a tenuous interest in road safety and accident prevention might not be aware of them too, but I am also sure that anyone whose job is related to, or who is seriously interested in, evidence-based road safety measures will be quite familiar with them.

Unlike back in the 1930s - when our current road safety model was imposed untried and untested, there now exists quite a body of such work which explores and explains the human psychology reasons for why the model doesn't work, and even gives evidence and pointers to help design a robust and sustainable model which is more likely to work.
Charles, England

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Are you sure about those 'studies' you've referred to Charles, which show the behaviour of drivers - I can't see how those behaviours could be measured with confidence. They have the ring of the product of someone's imagination with just a hint of presumption and over-generalisation. I've observed that those who drive without wearing their seat-belts are the ones most likely to need them. I don't think drivers consciously drive too fast and/or too close because of what safety features their car may, or may not have, I think they would do so anyway somehow.

Similarly, I notice Pat also made a claim about drivers with ABS braking later and harder, but how can he know?
Hugh Jones

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An interesting comment Pat. There is a convincing school of thought that suggests that the "unintended consequences" for any common sense (i.e. untried and untested, so unproven) intervention, ostensibly introduced to improve safety, cancel out the benefits of the intervention. Studies have shown that ABS users drive faster, drive closer and brake later than non-users; that motorists give less clearance to helmet wearing cyclists than to the non-helmeted; that seat-belted drivers drive faster and less carefully than non-belted drivers; that drivers on clear, wide and well delineated major roads drive faster than drivers on restricted, narrow roads with no road markings and no clear priorities.
Charles, England

Agree (9) | Disagree (5)

I do wonder what the unintended consequences of AEB will be? Years ago many people who had a habit of driving to the limit of their car or their ability (for example certain company car users) used the introduction of anti-lock brakes to brake later and harder. I suspect AEB will just cut the safety distance margin and attention levels of a whole class of drivers.
Pat, Wales

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