Proof that autonomy prevents rear-end crashes

The study by Euro NCAP and ANCAP, the independent safety bodies for Europe and Australasia, report its results with the publication of Effectiveness of low speed autonomous emergency braking in real-world rear-end crashes in the online edition of the journal Accident Analysis & Prevention.


It reveals autonomous emergency braking (AEB) as one of the more promising safety technologies that is becoming increasingly common on modern passenger cars. The low speed option normally consists of an automatic brake function that operates for speeds up to 19mph or 31mph.


Ironically, the report comes hard on the heels of news that most of the accidents in US autonomous driving trials by Google and Delphi involved test mules being rear-ended by traditional vehicles on open Californian roads.


Previous studies have predicted significant expected benefits of AEB technology in low speed rear-end crashes but, so far, there has been little evidence that they really work.


Real-world evaluations of advanced safety systems are often limited by slow take-up rates, insufficient crash data and lower crash rates of new, safer vehicles.


Euro NCAP, with support of ANCAP, has initiated the Validating Vehicle Safety through Meta-Analysis (VVSMA) group that brings together experts from governments, industry, consumer and insurance organisations. The group pooled data from five European countries plus Australia using a standard analysis format and a novel prospective meta-analysis approach. Induced exposure methods were adopted to control for any extraneous effects.


The findings showed a 38% overall reduction in real-world, rear-end crashes for vehicles fitted with low speed AEB compared to a sample of equivalent vehicles with no AEB. There was no statistical difference found between urban and rural speed zones.


Dr Anders Lie, the group chairman from the Swedish Transport Administration, said: “The meta-analysis approach used in this analysis is a unique academic contribution to the evaluation of vehicle safety technologies internationally and proved to be reliable with robust findings. Clearly, at this level of effectiveness, low speed AEB is potentially an important active safety technology and widespread fitment through the vehicle fleet should be encouraged in the interest of improved vehicle safety.”


Dr Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP, said: “These findings strongly support our decision to make AEB technology a key discriminator in the safety rating of new vehicles. Through VVSMA, we will continue to monitor the effectiveness in reducing real world crashes of the advanced systems that are promoted in order to validate and improve the overall star rating.” 


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