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25 May 2011 | PR 11/60

New car technology to save dozens of lives



New safety systems being fitted to British cars are set to save thousands of pedestrian injuries and dozens of lives each year thanks to new testing procedures developed with the help of Loughborough University experts.

The ‘giant step forward’ for pedestrian safety is the culmination of years of intensive research undertaken and commissioned by Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre.

AEB (Autonomous Emergency Braking) systems incorporate a raft of cutting edge initiatives tested by Thatcham, and utilise a variety of technologies to automatically stop a car before it hits a pedestrian, including radar, camera and lasers.

Researchers in the Loughborough Design School analysed Department for Transport data, having previously accompanied emergency services to record real life data at the scene of hundreds of accidents across the country, in order to identify typical traffic accident scenarios over a period of ten years.

This ground-breaking research has identified for the first time the most common crash situations, which have been used to define test procedures that will allow the new systems to be rated.

Lead researcher James Lenard explains how his decision to use cluster analysis on the data has provided industry with strong and convincing results. 

“By using a novel form of analysis on two sets of data we have been able to provide Thatcham with objective and reproducible accident scenarios on which they can develop AEB protocols.

“Our methods discovered remarkable parallels between the national accident database and field findings which means we can be confident in the scenarios we have identified.

“As a researcher it’s very satisfying to work on a project like this where three stakeholders of road safety – government, academia and industry, work together. To see your work applied on a project that will ultimately contribute to reducing casualty numbers is very pleasing.”

Test results show that once incorporated into all production models more than 650 serious injuries and 64 fatalities will be prevented in Britain each year.

A total of more than 2,700 pedestrian casualties will be prevented in Britain each year.

Ninety two per cent of pedestrian collisions occur at speeds of 30mph or under – within the performance limits of most new safety systems.

Some of the AEB systems will also make a massive impact by preventing over 160,000 painful and debilitating whiplash injuries caused each year by the most common crash – the rear end shunt.

Sixteen thousand of these whiplash injuries are rated as serious with 1,600 causing permanent disability or impairment.

A total of more than 270,000 crashes will be either prevented or mitigated once the systems are ubiquitous across the fleet.

Matthew Avery, Thatcham Research Manager Crash said:

“These systems are set to make a massive impact on the number and severity of accidents on British roads and beyond.

“I believe that in time they will prove as or more effective than the arrival of ESC (Electronic Stability Control) have been over the last decade or so.

“We are working alongside vehicle manufacturers to help develop them further in the future – and would encourage the inclusion of such systems as standard fit in new cars.

Six systems have been under test from vehicle manufacturers as diverse as BMW, Ford, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Mercedes.

It is hoped that the Thatcham AEB protocols, now being developed, will be considered in any future Euro NCAP testing procedures for new car safety ratings.


For all media enquiries contact:

Amanda Overend
Senior PR Officer
Loughborough University
T: 01509 228697
E: A.J.Overend@lboro.ac.uk 

Notes for editors:

Loughborough is one of the country’s leading universities, with an international reputation for research that matters, excellence in teaching, strong links with industry, and unrivalled achievement in sport and its underpinning academic disciplines.

It was awarded the coveted Sunday Times University of the Year 2008-09 title, and is consistently ranked in the top twenty of UK universities in national newspaper league tables. In the 2010 National Student Survey, Loughborough was voted one of the top universities in the UK, and has topped the Times Higher Education league for the UK’s Best Student Experience every year since the poll's inception in 2006. In recognition of its contribution to the sector, the University has been awarded six Queen's Anniversary Prizes.

Loughborough is also the UK’s premier university for sport. It has perhaps the best integrated sports development environment in the world and is home to some of the country’s leading coaches, sports scientists and support staff. It also has the country’s largest concentration of world-class training facilities across a wide range of sports.

It is a member of the 1994 Group of 19 leading research-intensive universities. The Group was established in 1994 to promote excellence in university research and teaching. Each member undertakes diverse and high-quality research, while ensuring excellent levels of teaching and student experience.

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This page was last updated on Wednesday September 21, 2011 10:46