Thatcham CEO Peter Shaw claims the government is not prepared to legislate for mandatory autonomous emergency braking systems in new cars, despite broadly supporting the research centre in its call for AEB technology to be fitted as standard.
Speaking to Post this morning (15 January) in the wake of launching Thatcham's call for action on new automotive safety measures, Shaw, pictured, explained that, although government ministers have offered backing to its broader road safety proposals, legislation to introduce compulsory AEB systems in new cars is not likely to be explored in the coming years.
Shaw said: "We're heavily engaged with the [Department for Transport] and over the past 18 months we have been talking to and lobbying ministers and the opposition and what we've got is words of support from the likes of [parliamentary under-secretary of state for the Department of Transport] Andrew Jones and [minister of state for the Department for Transport] has been to Thatcham to engage with us.
"However, they have fallen short of promising any changes in legislation that would support the introduction of mandatory auto braking systems. They are supportive, they believe the technology works and they want to see it adopted by manufacturers actively marketing and fitting it, but they don't want to mandate it.
"This is part of a broader strategy in the government, which is not to legislate and instead be a soft touch government. I don't think we can expect the mandating of auto braking in the next three years. It requires [global technical regulation] so usually when systems like this are mandated it's done at a European level."
However, despite the apparent lack of government action, Shaw remains upbeat on the work carried out by the insurance industry and motor manufacturers to advance availability and awareness around AEB technology.
He added: "We have had unanimous support for the call to action from the Thatcham members, which represent over 80% of all UK motor insurers.
"The manufacturers should largely be applauded for the way in which they have stepped up to the challenge of providing such technologies in the cars that they launch. Over 2015 of the new cars launched into the British market 75% of them had auto braking available - around 30% had it as standard fitment.
"The insurance industry should also be recognised as really driving the safety agenda. Back in October 2013, based in the research we had done, the group ratings panel adopted at advantaged position for cars adopting standard fit auto braking."
Commenting on where the wider adoption of AEB-fitted vehicles is being delayed, the Thatcham boss pointed the finger at car dealerships.
He said: "Where we have a problem and where our call to action is more specific is to the dealerships of the car makers, who don't promote the safety technologies as they should do. They are often uneducated as to what the systems can do and the benefits they drive.
"When the average driver goes in to buy a car he currently won't get good advice from the dealership and that is something that has to change. When [AEB] is available as an option on a new car it's only being taken up 2% or 3% of the time."
The DfT was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
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