German firm says the safety system could prevent up to 2,500 crashes a year.

Volkswagen has called out other van manufacturers for failing to include autonomous emergency braking systems on their commercial vehicles.

Autonomous emergency braking, or AEB, is an automatic system that applies a vehicle’s brakes without any driver input if the onboard sensors detect an impending crash. The system is designed to prevent low-speed accidents, such as urban bumps caused by distracted drivers, but it can also prevent (or at least reduce the effects of) high-speed collisions.

The insurance industry’s research and testing organisation, Thatcham Research, has heralded the technology as “probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt”.

According to Volkswagen, fitting the system on all the U.K.’s commercial vehicles could prevent as many as 2,500 crashes and around 350 deaths and serious injuries every year.

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And the company also claims that within the passenger car market, the technology has the potential to reduce accidents by 38 percent and save 1,000 lives in the next decade.

Carl zu Dohna, director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: "We are proud to be leading the way with AEB standard across our van range. Ensuring our customers have the safest and most reliable commercial vehicles is all part of our Working With You promise."

"Autonomous emergency braking systems mean safer vehicles, fewer accidents and therefore reduced downtime and lower costs for fleets – as well as the potential to save lives. These are vital goals for any vehicle manufacturer."

Matthew Avery, director of research at the insurance industry’s testing center, Thatcham Research, added: "With the number of accidents involving vans increasing year on year, AEB’s proven ability to avoid and mitigate collisions should not be overlooked."

Source: Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles

Gallery: VW commercial vans with AEB

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FITTING AEB AS STANDARD ON ALL VANS COULD STOP ALMOST 2,500 CRASHES PER YEAR

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) could prevent almost 2,500 crashes and 350 deaths and serious injuries each year
  • Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles is the only manufacturer with AEB standard across van range
  • Calls for the rest of the industry to catch up and protect fleet drivers and operators
  • AEB can save lives, stop accidents and cut costs

Fitting autonomous emergency braking systems as standard on all commercial vehicles in the UK has the potential to stop almost 2,500 crashes per year.

Analysis of Department for Transport van accident statistics reveals 2,496 incidents involving vans weighing up to 3.5 tonnes could have been avoided if autonomous emergency braking systems had been fitted - preventing 348 deaths and serious injuries*.

Across the car industry, autonomous emergency braking has the potential to save 1,000 lives and 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years with AEB leading to a real-world accident reduction of 38 per cent**. Despite advances in technology, the number of road deaths hit a five-year high in 2017.

Since 1 June 2017, all buyers of a new Volkswagen Caddy, Transporter or Crafter have had autonomous emergency braking systems (Front Assist with City Emergency Braking) fitted as standard, making Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles the only manufacturer to offer the tech as standard across its van range. The technology is regarded as ‘probably the most significant development in vehicle safety since the seat belt’ by Thatcham Research, the motor insurers’ automotive research centre and respected experts in safety, security and crash repair.

Carl zu Dohna, Director of Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles, said: “We are proud to be leading the way with AEB standard across our van range. Ensuring our customers have the safest and most reliable commercial vehicles is all part of our Working With You promise.

“Autonomous emergency braking systems mean safer vehicles, fewer accidents and therefore reduced downtime and lower costs for fleets – as well as the potential to save lives. These are vital goals for any vehicle manufacturer.”

AEB systems also have the potential to cut third party insurance claims by 45 per cent meaning lower costs and less time off the road for van drivers and fleet operators. Vehicles fitted with autonomous emergency braking also benefit from an average insurance premium saving of 10 per cent compared to those without. The insurance rating of the all-new Crafter was reduced by four groups thanks to standard fitment of AEB.

Matthew Avery, Director of Research, Thatcham Research comments: “To date, Volkswagen is the only commercial vehicle maker offering AEB as standard across its entire van range. With the number of accidents involving vans increasing year on year, AEB’s proven ability to avoid and mitigate collisions should not be overlooked.”

For more details on Volkswagen Commercial Vehicles’ award-winning range of products and services, or to find your nearest Van Centre, please visit www.volkswagen-vans.co.uk.

About Front Assist and City Emergency Braking
Using a radar built into the front end of the van, Front Assist recognises critical distances to the vehicle in front and helps to ensure safe stopping. In any dangerous situations Front Assist reacts here in two stages: in the first the assistance system warns the driver with audible and visual signals of any vehicle in front driving slowly or suddenly braking and of the associated risk of collision. In parallel it gets the vehicle ready for emergency braking – by applying the brake pads and alerting the brake assistant. If the driver fails to react to the warning, a one-off short jolt of the brake indicates in the second stage the looming danger of a collision and the brake assistant’s responsiveness is further increased. If the driver then hits the brakes, full braking power is immediately available. If the driver does not brake strongly enough, Front Assist increases the braking pressure to the required level, so that the vehicle comes to a stop before reaching the obstacle.

The system also includes the City Emergency Braking function, which provides assistance at low speeds of under 18 mph. If the driver fails to see or react to an obstacle, the system automatically applies the brakes and ensures that the speed of any collision is reduced. Ideally, it completely prevents the vehicle from running into the obstacle.