U.K. industry body says two-thirds of new cars feature advanced safety kit.

A leading U.K. car industry body says cars are "safer than ever before" as research shows that two-thirds of the country’s new cars are offered with safety assistance systems such as autonomous emergency braking and collision warning.

The Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT) made the claim as analysis from Jato Dynamics, showed that 66.8 percent of new cars are available with at least one self-activating safety system.

Collision warning systems, which beep to alert the driver when they sense an imminent accident, are the most common, appearing on almost 1.8 million new cars last year.

Parking assistance was the second most popular system, appearing on 1.58 million new vehicles, while autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which hits the brakes automatically if an impending crash is detected, was the third most popular option, being fitted to 1.43 million cars.

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Mike Hawes, the SMMT’s chief executive, said: "Safety is the number one priority for vehicle manufacturers and the pace of technological change is faster than ever before, with driver assistance technologies now available on the majority of vehicles cars. Fully autonomous cars may still be some way off but millions of consumers are already enjoying the benefits of new technology which can only help make our roads safer.’

Despite the SMMT’s positive stance, though, some say car manufacturers need to go further. In September last year, Matthew Avery, of Thatcham Research, criticized Britain’s most popular car – the Ford Fiesta, which achieved five stars in the Euro NCAP crash test, but does not offer AEB as standard.

"That one of the UK’s best-selling vehicles is a five-star Euro NCAP car is good news," said Avery. "However, its AEB system is only available as an option, which is a shame as fewer than five percent of car buyers take up additional safety packs. For this reason the Seat Ibiza remains our top safety choice of the superminis launched so far in 2017."

Michiel van Ratingen, secretary general of Euro NCAP, said the organization was trying to encourage the use of collision mitigation technology, but warned that manufacturers should not forget "the basics’ of structural safety."

"Euro NCAP is pushing for the fitment of advanced technologies and manufacturers have responded well, with AEB now commonplace on most new cars," he said. "However, they should not forget the basics of occupant protection in case of a crash. All occupants deserve to be equally well protected, whether they’re an adult driver or a child seated in the rear."

Source: SMMT

Gallery: 2017 Euro NCAP last crash tests

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New cars in UK safer than ever before with 1.8 million fitted with collision warning systems

  • Nearly 7 in 10 new cars available with driver assistance systems, with 1.8 million buyers a year benefitting from collision avoidance technology.
  • Autonomous emergency braking, parking assistance and blind spot sensors also top the list of most popular tech.
  • Road accidents fall 10% in five years as advanced safety tech helps keep drivers safer.

New driver assistance technology is making British roads safer, with systems that mitigate driver errors and prevent accidents now available on almost seven in 10 cars on the market, according to the Society of Motor Manufacturers and Traders (SMMT).

Latest data from SMMT and JATO Dynamics shows that some 66.8% of new cars are offered with at least one self-activating safety system, either as standard or as an optional extra. Nearly 1.8 million new vehicles a year are now available with collision warning systems alone, up 20% on the previous year.

It’s just one of a raft of technologies now in showrooms, including autonomous emergency braking (AEB), parking assistance, adaptive cruise control and overtaking (or blind spot) sensors. AEB, for example, which automatically applies the brakes to avoid or reduce the effects of an impact, is available on more than half (53.1%) of new cars, with a quarter featuring the technology as standard. Meanwhile, overtaking sensors are available to 42.1% of buyers and Adaptive Cruise Control, which allows the car to slow down and speed up automatically to keep safe pace with the vehicle in front, to 36.2%.

Parking assistance technology, including cameras and sensors, is available as standard or an option on 58.8% of new cars. Consumers are also benefiting from the latest technology, which allows cars to park themselves in the tightest of spaces, and is now on nearly a quarter of a million vehicles registered.

Examples of exciting technology due to debut in showrooms in 2018 include Traffic Jam Pilot, where, in the right conditions, the car can take over the task of driving in slow moving traffic or queues; smartphone – or key fob-controlled remote parking; and pre-collision warning systems, which detect vehicles, pedestrians and cyclists.

Mike Hawes, SMMT Chief Executive, said,

Safety is the number one priority for vehicle manufacturers and the pace of technological change is faster than ever before, with driver assistance technologies now available on the majority of vehicles cars. Fully autonomous cars may still be some way off but millions of consumers are already enjoying the benefits of new technology which can only help make our roads safer.

Thanks to these innovations and more, road accidents in the UK have fallen by nearly 10% since 2012, and are set to fall further as manufacturers continually strive to develop ever more sophisticated technology to improve safety and the driver experience.

According to a 2015 report by SMMT and KPMG, connected and self-driving vehicle technology could reduce serious accidents by 25,000 and save 2,500 lives by 2030. Meanwhile, the annual saving to consumers through shorter journey times, lower fuel, insurance and parking costs, and the ability to multi-task, could be as high as £40 billion, with the overall UK economic benefit amounting to some £51 billion.

Additional research published by SMMT has found that six in 10 people believe the technology will improve their quality of life. Stress-free driving is seen as the biggest advantage, with automatic braking and parking and a car’s ability to self-diagnose faults cited as the most desirable benefits – features already available to new car buyers today.