Benz has safety

bases covered

Mercedes C Class Estate, front

THE majority of the most popular cars in Britain now offer five-star crash protection - but standard fitting of Autonomous Emergency Braking is still only available on half of them.

Analysis by independent safety experts Thatcham Research confirms that five of the current Top 10 UK best-sellers now offer some level of AEB fitment as standard.

Worryingly though, only one - the Mercedes-Benz C-Class - has the crash prevention technology on every model and trim level in its range.

Monitoring the road ahead using sensor and camera technology, AEB has been shown to reduce low-speed crashes by up to 40 per cent by automatically braking to avoid a collision with another car or a pedestrian, if the driver hasn't responded.

But it is still not available on more than half of all new cars (52%) on sale in the UK and, says Thatcham chief Peter Shaw, the best-selling models need to be setting an example to change this.

Shaw says: "It is right to acknowledge the achievements of car makers in providing us with safe cars that offer excellent protection in the event of a crash, with eight of the top 10 best-sellers having Euro NCAP 5 star ratings.

"However, preventing the crash from happening in the first place now must be the focus and that starts with having AEB as standard.

"Prioritising fitment to the best-sellers will make the biggest contribution to reducing the number of crashes on our roads, as well as encouraging other car makers to follow suit."

The Mercedes-Benz C-Class has AEB as standard across its entire range, while the Volkswagen Golf and Nissan Qashqai also have commendable levels of standard fitment - 83 and 71 per cent.

At the other end of the spectrum, the Vauxhall Corsa - the UKs second best-selling car - is not available with AEB at all and the No.1 best-seller, the Ford Fiesta, only offers the technology as an optional extra, and this on only just over half the model range.

"With combined sales of the Fiesta and Corsa totalling over 100,000 in the first six months of this year alone, there's a great opportunity to provide standard fit crash prevention for the masses," says Shaw.

Superminis are likely choices of car for young, inexperienced drivers who are 26 timesmore likely to be involved in a crash. Yet, the size and price of a car do not have to be barriers to AEB fitment.

And Shaw adds: "Honda has shown that standard fit AEB safety at supermini price level is achievable, with the new Jazz having it across the entire range."

Shorter model replacement cycles may make it easier for car makers to upgrade their safety offer and Thatcham Research believes that they must take more advantage of these opportunities.

"The new Fiesta is expected next year and gives Ford the opportunity to redress the balance by making AEB standard," comments Shaw.

"And having already shown with the Astra that it recognises the value of the technology, Vauxhall should be targeting at least a similar level of fitment on all future versions of its other models."

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