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eSafety Survey reveals low understanding of benefits

31 May 2011

Electronically Stability Control (ESC) has been hailed as the most important safety technology since the seat belt. It is already in use on many new vehicles registered across Europe.It is welcome news that a survey recently released by the European consortium eSafety Aware reveals that when it comes to selecting a new vehicle safety is the number one purchasing criterion.

It is perhaps surprising though that the survey also shows that the two criteria considerd next most important are: fuel consumption and running costs. The perhaps indicate that car buyers are also relatively cost-conscious when it comes to buying a new car, but surprisingly the vehicle brand scored relatively poorly, coming behind running costs, size, fuel type and emissions.

The survey was which looked at levels of awareness of six important safety technologies: Speed Alert, Electronic Stability Control, Adaptive Headlights, Advanced Emergency Braking, Blind Spot Monitoring and Lane Support systems, followed one carried out in 2009 and was carried out in five European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Poland, UK) to support the eSafetyChallenge event in Vallelunga (Italy). The 2011 survey was on a much larger scale but has provided comparable data with a focus on personal ratings of car selection criteria and awareness of life-saving technologies.

Another surprise was that marked differences which exist in awareness levels between systems and between countries. For instance, 68 per cent of Spanish respondents are aware of the Advanced Emergency Braking System, while in France awareness is lowest of all countries with only 38 per cent. In the case of the most significant life-saving technology ESC, 89 per cent of those interviewed in Germany were aware of the technology but in Britain it was only 41 per cent.

It also showed that the internet was the most used source of information when buying a new car followed by car dealers when it comes to buying a new car. Interestingly, men search for information from dealers and the internet more often than women. Compared to male car buyers, women rely more often on advice from family and friends.

ESC, Advanced Emergency Braking Systems and Adaptive Headlights. Systems are equally important for men and women, while respondents who had been involved in a critical situation rate the importance of safety systems higher.

ESC helps avoid a crash by significantly reducing the risk of skidding during a sudden emergency manoeuvre, stabilising the car by braking individual wheels. Advanced Emergency Braking uses sensor technology to monitor the road ahead and will, if a potential collision is detected, warn the driver of the danger. If there is no reaction to the warning, the technologies activate the brakes together with systems such as seatbelt pre-tensioners to avoid and accident or mitigate the impact of a crash. ESC is set to become a legal requirement for newly introduced vehicles in November this year and all new car registrations from November 2014. Let’s hope that by then public awareness levels will be such that car buyers at least have some idea of what they are getting!

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