Testing uses specially developed targets with characteristics of light, radar, colour and size reflectivity chosen to represent a real car
The independent European New Car Assessment Programme, Euro NCAP helps to bring about significant improvements in the style of vehicle structures and restraint systems who have made accidents much more surviveable. You have a significantly better chance of surviving a crash within a 5 star car in comparison to a 2 star car.
Car occupants still get seriously injured though and cars suffer expensive and extensive damage, even just in relatively low speed crashes, so, encouraged by insurers, car manufacturers are operating hard to exploit today’s sophisticated radar and camera technology to give you cars that can prevent many crashes from happening in the first place.
A variety of primary safety – crash prevention – systems have appeared on new cars in the last few years from lane-keeping support to drowsiness warning, but the most significant of these new technologies is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) samples of which include Volvo’s ‘City Safety’ and Ford’s ‘Active City Stop’.
The chance of AEB is really significant that, despite the system’s relative infancy, the Association of British Insurers has now announced that AEB will be taken into account in insurance group rating, so that cars with AEB fitted as factory standard equipment could now benefit from a reduced insurance group rating.
Exactly what does AEB do?
Using sensors mounted behind the rear-view mirror
Windscreen mounted sensors
Using sensors mounted behind the back-view mirror an AEB system can work out if you’re about to get a crash and apply the brakes automatically to either prevent the crash, at lower speeds or reduce its severity at higher speeds. Systems may initially warn you of an imminent collision and pre-charge the brakes or restraint system ready to use.
To reduce the danger of activation during ‘normal’ driving, AEB systems will usually intervene ‘late and hard’ i.e. they will hold off until it’s clear that any response in the driver is just too late after which apply the brakes as fast and hard as possible to attempt to prevent or mitigate the crash. Once it offers decided that it’s past too far for you to do much about it. put simply the system will intervene only.
AEB systems are targeted at lower speed crashes and accidents involving pedestrian casualties.
75% of crashes occur at speeds under 20mph
26% of crashes are front to rear low speed shunts
Over 400,000 whiplash claims are made annually
More than 6,000 pedestrians are killed or seriously injured on UK roads every year
Pedestrian casualties make up 23% of all killed and seriously injured
A study in the USA has shown clearly that cars fitted with AEB are involved in fewer crashes than comparable cars without. The frequency of claims was significantly lower for bodily injury, first party (own car) damage and for alternative party (other car) damage.
The most significant benefit seen was in third party injuries – typically whiplash – where there was a 50% reduction in the number of claims from cars equipped with AEB.
Testing AEB performance
Thatcham is part of any international group developing procedures to test the performance of AEB systems in the most prevalent types of crash seen in real life. With test procedures now agreed for some scenarios, Euro NCAP has indicated that it is going to include AEB in its assessment of new vehicle safety from 2014.
Testing uses specially developed targets with characteristics of light, radar, colour and size reflectivity chosen to represent a real car while being softer and capable of receiving repeated impacts. Robot drivers (throttle and steering) retain the test driver for accurate alignment, control and repeatability.
Robot drivers are used for accurate alignment, repeatability and control
Different crash types
City (low speed, low injury risk but high volume)
Car approaching the back of a stationary target car at speeds from 10 to 50km/h (approx. 6 to 30mph). Tests undertaken at different approach speeds with points awarded for avoidance.
Inter-urban (higher speeds, higher injury risk, lower volume)
Car approaching a slower moving target car at approach speeds from 50 to 80km/h, and car approaching a lead vehicle that is decelerating. Tests undertaken at different approach speeds and different headways/deceleration with points awarded for avoidance and mitigation.
Pedestrian (high injury risk but smaller volume)
Pedestrian walks right out of the nearside; pedestrian walks out of behind an obstruction (parked car) and pedestrian runs out from the farside. Pedestrian test protocols and targets are still being developed.
Insurance group rating
The insurance group rating panel, comprising individuals the Association of British Insurers (ABI) and Lloyds Market Association (LMA) meets monthly to create advisory motor insurance ratings for new passenger cars throughout the uk.
For AEB, the panel will be taking account of performance from the ‘City’ test only simply because this addresses scenarios most relevant to insurers.
Caused by the City test is based on a point score for each speed increment from 10 to 50km/h with all the points offered at each speed weighted to reflect crash frequency and risk of whiplash or personal injury claim. More points are available at lower speeds to reflect the frequency of whiplash claims at lower speeds, and the frequency of low speed shunts.
The entire point score is awarded for that test speed if the car target is completely avoided.
The total points score achieved in the AEB City test is translated into a percentage reduction to get applied to the labour and parts part of the group rating calculation rather than towards the overall group rating calculation.
Parts and labour/damageability is the largest component in group rating so significant reductions in overall group rating are feasible.
Factors used to calculate group ratings:
Damage and Parts Costs – The likely extent of damage to each car model and the expense of the parts associated with its repair. The lower these costs, the better likelihood there may be of a lower group rating.
Repair Times – Longer repair times mean higher costs as well as the greater chance of a higher group rating. Different paint finishes on modern cars are an important factor, so these too are taken into account.
New Car Values – The prices of new cars are taken into account since they are often a good guide to the price of repair and replacement.
Parts Prices – A regular list of 23 common parts is used to compare one manufacturer’s parts costs to another. The reduced these costs, the more likelihood there is of any lower group rating.
Performance – Acceleration and top speed are essential factors. Insurers know adequately, from their claims statistics, that high performance cars often cause more frequent insurance claims.
Car Security – Security measures fitted as standard equipment by motor manufacturers will help you to reduce insurance claims costs. Such features include high security door locks, alarm/immobilisation systems, glass etching, coded audio equipment, locking devices for alloy wheels and visible VIN numbers.