posted 5 years ago

Euro NCAP 5-Star Rating Could Be Reserved For Auto-Braking Cars

Euro NCAP To Test Autonomous Emergency Braking Systems

Euro NCAP – the body that assesses new car safety – might soon reserve its maximum five-star rating for those with Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB). Euro NCAP divides this technology into two forms: AEB City and AEB Inter-Urban. The former operates at town speeds and the latter at higher velocities. An AEB system monitors the road ahead via sensors then calculates the required stopping distance to the nearest hazard, e.g. slow moving lorry. If this becomes to small the system might warn the driver via an alert. This could be a beeping tone and flashing light. If the motorist fails to react - perhaps because he/she is distracted or panics – it performs a full-power emergency stop to ensure that the vehicle misses the hazard, or to reduce the severity of the impact. Clearly, such systems have the potential to significantly reduce the number of people killed and injured on the roads. As such, from January 2014 Euro NCAP will “give credit to vehicle manufacturers that equip their models with robust forward collision warning and/or automatic braking technology”. It will therefore award points for a car's AEB City and AEB Inter-Urban systems. These will be one to indicate marginal effectiveness, two for adequate and three for good. These then contribute to an overall star rating (one to five).

Thatcham Research Discusses Autonomous Emergency Braking

Thatcham Research – that defines vehicle insurance group ratings based (in part) on the their safety features – has recently been testing this technology. Its Chief Executive Peter Shaw said: “The vast majority of major vehicle manufacturers are already providing AEB technologies on their vehicles and - such is their effectiveness - we are delighted that international safety body Euro NCAP will incorporate the Thatcham led test as part of their overall vehicle safety standard in 2014.  We expect that by 2016 cars will find it increasingly difficult to achieve a five-star rating unless they have this powerful safety measure. UK insurers are already offering favourable insurance groupings on vehicles fitted with AEB as standard – a clear sign of its effectiveness.” Mr Shaw added: “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 Advanced Driver Assist Systems have a critical role to play in avoiding both common low-speed bumps that can cause injuries such as whiplash, and mitigating injuries and fatalities from medium-speed crashes.


A couple of worrying aspects to these systems do not seem to have been taken into consideration. Firstly, it seems to me to be likely that some drivers will develop the bad habit of relying on AEB to bring their vehicle to rest when driving in heavy traffic. If such an individual then transfers to a car without AEB, he may be slow to react to an emergency situation. The second problem that I foresee relates specifically to systems designed to brake automatically to avoid pedestrians. There are two difficulties with this. When such systems become widespread, it may encourage foolhardy or careless behaviour on the part of pedestrians. The second difficulty relates to behaviour with criminal intentions. If a car can be brought to rest by a thug standing in front of it (and thereby activating pedestrian avoidance braking), then the occupants are not safe from robbery, assault etc. If we are going to make such fundamental changes to cars and driving then we need to take particular care over the unintended consequences of such changes.

I don't think the five stars should be kept for auto-braking cars only as its software feed into a computer which can go terribly wrong - the five stars were supposed be based on how a car stood up in an accident and awarded after testing

While I am all for increased safety measures, I am worried that this will lead to an increase in the number of rear end shunts caused by a vehicle not so fitted being unable to match the reaction time and/or braking distance of the AEB fitted vehicle. Until ALL vehicles are AEB equipped, I can foresee problems.

All drivers will now need to be made aware of cars fitted with such systems coming to a screeching halt in front of them, having seen a hazard that is not necessarily visible to the car behind them. It seems to me that through-car visibility now needs to be emphasised by NCAP, because the trend has been to make rear windows ever higher and smaller.