More than 1.5 million UK motorists per year now leave showrooms in cars featuring self-activating safety systems, according to analysis by the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).
Data from SMMT and JATO Dynamics shows that more than half of new cars registered in 2015 were fitted with safety-enhancing collision warning systems, with other technologies, such as adaptive cruise control, autonomous emergency braking, and blind spot monitoring, also surging in popularity.
Semi-autonomous vehicle technology not only eases the task of driving, but has the potential to reduce significantly the risk of serious accidents, according to the SMMT analysis.
Technologies that are rapidly becoming more commonplace include collision warning systems, which monitor the space ahead of the car using radar and cameras to provide obstacle warnings. These were fitted to 58.1% of Britain’s record new car market in 2015 – whether as standard or as an option. In contrast, just five years ago collision warning featured on only 6.8% of new cars registered, according to the SMMT analysis.
Autonomous emergency braking, which automatically applies the brakes to avoid or reduce the effects of an impact should the driver fail to react, was fitted to more than 1 million (39%) of all new cars registered – with 18% of buyers getting the safety tech as standard, according to the SMMT.
Blind spot monitoring was a feature of more than a third of new cars, while adaptive cruise control, which automatically adjusts the car’s speed to maintain a safe distance from vehicles ahead, was fitted to almost a third (31.7%) of new cars registered, either as standard or an option. Just five years ago, less than 10% of new cars were available with this technology, according to the SMMT.
“Connected and autonomous cars will transform our society – vastly improving safety and reducing congestion and emissions – and will contribute billions to the economy. The UK is already earning a reputation as a global development hub in this field, thanks to significant industry and government investment, and the ability to trial these cars on the roads right now,” said Mike Hawes, SMMT chief executive.
A report commissioned by SMMT last year found that serious accidents could fall by more than 25,000, saving 2,500 lives every year by 2030, as a result of driverless vehicle technology. Besides improving safety, these cars also offer the scope to reduce congestion-induced stress, providing drivers with more free time and allowing them to be more productive. It is estimated that the annual saving to consumers by the end of the next decade could be as high as £40 billion, with motorists able to multi-task while behind the wheel, get to their destinations more quickly and save money on fuel, insurance and parking.