ALMOST 350 road deaths and serious injuries a year could be avoided if all light vans came fitted with autonomous emergency braking (AEB) systems as standard, according to new research.
Analysis of Department for Transport van accident statistics reveals 2,496 incidents involving vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes could have been avoided if AEB systems had been fitted - preventing 348 deaths and serious injuries.
And across the car industry as a whole, autonomous emergency braking has the potential to save 1,000 lives and 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years with AEB leading to a real-world accident reduction of 38 per cent. Despite advances in technology, the number of road deaths hit a five-year high in 2017.
That's according to Volkswagen which has good commercial reasons for highlighting the statistics - for, since June last year, all its light vans have been fitted with AEB as standard.
The technology is regarded as ‘probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt' by Thatcham Research, the motor insurers' automotive research centre and respected experts in safety, security and crash repair.
Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, says: "Autonomous emergency braking systems mean safer vehicles, fewer accidents and therefore reduced downtime and lower costs for fleets - as well as the potential to save lives. These are vital goals for any vehicle manufacturer."
AEB systems also have the potential to cut third party insurance claims by 45 per cent meaning lower costs and less time off the road for van drivers and fleet operators. Vehicles fitted with autonomous emergency braking also benefit from an average insurance premium saving of 10 per cent compared to those without.
Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research comments: "To date, Volkswagen is the only commercial vehicle maker offering AEB as standard across its entire van range. With the number of accidents involving vans increasing year on year, AEB's proven ability to avoid and mitigate collisions should not be overlooked."