VW’s autonomous braking system praised for 45% drop in injury claims

Article by Christian A., on May 25, 2015

Safety experts at the Thatcham Research Centre recognized the Volkswagen Golf and Passat models for having achieved a 45% decline in third party personal injury insurance claims because they were installed with auto-emergency braking systems. UK sales of the newest generation Golf started in January 2013.

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC) is offered as standard equipment on the entire lineup, except for the entry-level S models. These include the radar sensor controlled distance monitoring system Front Assist, city emergency braking and cruise control. Since its launch, the newest Golf saw its third injury claims drop by 45% when compared to the equivalent ‘Small Family Car Control Group’.

According to Matthew Avery, Director of Safety at Thatcham Research, the results are based on the equivalent of over 7,000 Mk VII Golf models that have full 12-month insurance on the road. These are generated from claims data as reported by its insurance members. He shared that they were surprised when the figures surpassed their own performance tests.

They had first looked at the initial findings from a small sample. But then, the findings remained even after the sample group was doubled. He added that the testing gave them a glimpse of how safe UK roads will be in the future. Avery added that while these systems have been around for quite some time, the Golf had “democratized” safety and delivered ACC to more consumers.

This system is operational over a 30-160mph speed range when a manual gearbox and DSG are used. When this system is used in vehicles with DSG, it can intervene extensively such that the car can come to a total standstill. During normal driving, ACC keeps to a pre-chosen speed and a determined distance from the vehicle in front.

It automatically brakes or accelerates when traffic is flowing. The distance to the traffic ahead is continuously monitored by Front Assist. It assists the driver in difficult instances by preconditioning the brake system and alarming the driver to react if necessary via visual and audible warnings. If the driver doesn’t sufficiently brake, the system helps avoid a collision by automatically providing sufficient braking force.

If the driver doesn’t have any kind of reaction, the car is automatically slowed down so that impact is minimized. Furthermore, the system helps the driver by giving a warning if the car has gotten too near the vehicle ahead of it. Front Assist also comes with the city emergency braking function that functions at speeds slower than 30 km/h (or about 18 mph).

ACC is also now standard on the new Passat which started selling last January in the UK. The exception still stands for the S models. There are indications from Thatcham’s findings that there may be even more declines in accidents as the system is developed further and as it comes with the capability to detect pedestrians.

In addition, ACC is offered on other models such as the Polo and Touareg. Meanwhile, the up! city car also gets emergency braking. Avery said that third party personal injury claims may continue to decrease across the board if these newest generation auto-emergency braking systems are increasingly used in the real world.

Alex Smith, Director of Volkswagen UK, said that when the Golf was launched, they knew that the fitment of ACC would be significant and it’s now evident in the reduced insurance group ratings. He also said that as new vehicles come out, the trend would be for the ACC to be offered as standard. [source: VW]

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