Car insurer MORE TH>N is cutting its premiums for drivers who have autonomous emergency braking (AEB) fitted as standard in their car.
Motorists who have the safety system will see a typical discount of 16% and it will be available to both new and existing customers, the firm said.
Daniel Robinson, head of motor at the insurer, explained: "We regularly see car accidents caused by late braking or braking without enough force and the impact can be devastating. As this technology significantly reduces the likelihood of having a crash, we believe it's right to reward drivers who have it fitted in their car which is why we're discounting their premiums." Peter Shaw, the chief executive of the motor insurance industry's research organisation Thatcham, added: "Thatcham has been testing and researching AEB equipped cars for three years now and believe these braking systems will soon be considered just as essential as airbags and seatbelts for car safety by helping avoid the crashes that cause injury and damage.
"I hope that insurance discounts such as these will influence buyers to choose cars with AEB fitted which is great news for all drivers on UK roads." What is AEB? The technology is designed to prevent lower speed crashes and reduce the severity of higher-speed accidents, the AA explains. It works by using sensors fitted behind the rear-view mirror that can detect whether the vehicle may be about to crash or collide with pedestrians or cyclists. In such circumstances, the system can apply the brakes automatically.
AEB kicks in 'late and hard' and so the system first warns the driver of an imminent collision so they can apply the brakes themselves. Only if it detects the driver has been too slow to act will the system take over. This helps to prevent automatic emergency breaking being activated unnecessarily during normal driving conditions.
What cars have it? AEBs can be fitted to new vehicles, either as standard or as options. According to Thatcham, 7% of new cars now on sale have AEB fitted as standard, while a further 17% can have it added as an option.
For example, the AA points out Nissan fits AEB as standard on its Accenta Premium and Tekna models of the Qashqai and as an option costing £495 on other models. Ford offers it as an option on its Fiesta and Focus models for just £200.
It's important to note that when AEB is requested as an option, it must be fitted when the car is bought new from a dealer – you can't have it fitted separately by a garage or have it installed in older cars. The More Th>n discount only applies when AEB is fitted as standard.
How effective is it? Thatcham says AEB reduces the occurrence of low-speed accidents by around 20%. It adds that the technology is most effective when drivers are doing less than 25mph, which account for more than 75% of accidents.
What's in it for the insurers? One of the biggest benefits of AEB is the reductions in third-party injuries (pedestrians or other motorists) such as whiplash. Thatcham's research says accidents involving cars fitted with the system have already resulted in 50% fewer whiplash claims.
According to the Association of British Insurers, whiplash claims cost UK motorists over £2 billion a year, adding £90 to the average premium.