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Britain in The Slow Lane when Adopting e-Safety Technologies

1 June 2011

 Fleets and private new car buyers in Britain are in the slow lane compared with some other European countries in accepting life-saving eSafety technologies.

The findings come in a new study across 10 European countries investigating car users’ acceptance of eSafety Technologies carried out to coincide with this year’s eSafety Challenge .

Although awareness levels of eSafety-related systems on a European level have increased by 10% since a similar study two years ago, safety chiefs are concerned that the technology is not more widely accepted.

At last year’s eSafety Challenge event in the UK, fleet managers - who are responsible for buying the majority of new cars in Britain - were urged to lead demand for eSafety technologies such as electronic stability control (ESC), blind spot monitoring, lane support systems, speed alert, warning and emergency braking systems and adaptive headlights.

eSafety refers to vehicle technologies that can assist drivers in an emergency situation and by providing vital information and warnings to help avoid crash situations occurring.

Devices such as ESC, which is to be compulsory in all new cars from 2012, have the potential to save 4,000 lives and 100,000 injuries annually alone in Europe, according to eSafety Aware, one of the organisations behind this year’s eSafety Challenge.

In Germany, research by insurer Allianz has revealed that as much as €330 million could be saved by preventing small rear impact accidents and that almost three out of four rear impact accidents with injuries and fatalities could be avoided with the 100% introduction of advanced emergency braking systems.

Meanwhile, in the UK, the Department for Transport has concluded that ESC-equipped vehicles are 25% less likely to be involved in fatal crashes than those without. That equates to 380 fewer fatalities and 7,800 fewer people injured on UK roads.

In its Strategic Framework for Road Safety DfT has said: 'We expect vehicle technology will continue to play a key role in reducing casualties, and while many of the improvements in the past have come from the introduction of improved crashworthiness, the focus is shifting to crash avoidance. This is made possible by the significant advances in computing and sensor technologies and presents a unique opportunity to secure casualty reductions by implementing systems that stop crashes from happening.

The systems have an impact on the car occupants' safety by helping the driver make the right decisions and remain in control of the car by informing, advising and alerting the driver about dangerous situations. Electronic Stability Control (ESC) and Warning and Emergency Braking Systems evaluate the driving situation and take action to avoid or minimise the effects of a crash. Other systems, such as Blind Spot Monitoring, Speed Alert and Lane Support Systems sense when the driver is in a potentially dangerous situation and provide an instant warning.