The Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) and the Australian Medical Association (AMA) have teamed up to lobby governments and the automotive industry to make advanced safety technologies standard in all new vehicles sold in Australia.
The first target of their ‘Avoid the crash, Avoid the trauma’ campaign launched at Parliament House in Canberra today is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which uses cameras and sensors to detect the speed and distance of objects in the vehicle’s path and automatically brake if the driver does not respond. (Check out our story Autonomous emergency braking explained for more information.)
AMA president and leading Sydney neurosurgeon Professor Brian Owler today called on politicians, car industry leaders and road users to join the call for new technologies such as AEB to be mandated to make cars safer and save lives.
“Road safety and public health go hand in hand,” Owler said. “Road trauma has an enormous impact on the lives of everyday Australians and our health system.
“We must do all we can to eliminate it, and governments have an important role to play, especially in working with the car industry to make cars safer, preferably by making life-saving technology like AEB standard features in all new cars.
“The safest cars should be in reach of all Australian drivers. Vehicle technologies such as AEB can help reduce road trauma at a much faster rate than we are seeing now.”
Owler acknowledged that educating drivers about the risks of speeding and careless driving was also essential an essential part of making our roads safer.
“Too often I see the horrific injuries and loss of life caused by road crashes when drivers get it wrong,” he said.
“Prevention is far better than the cure – if we avoid the crash, we avoid the trauma.”
ANCAP CEO Nicholas Clarke said that while the number of people killed on Australia’s roads was declining, road crashes were still claiming about 1200 lives every year.
“AEB is a technology that will reduce the number of deaths and injuries from road crashes,” Clarke said.
Together, ANCAP and the AMA are appealing to the Federal Government to redirect car manufacturer subsidies into programs facilitating the faster introduction of AEB, support a nationwide AEB consumer awareness program, update its fleet purchasing policy to include AEB, appoint a dedicated road safety minister, and put pressure on manufacturers to include AEB as a standard feature in all new vehicles.
Currently, AEB is standard only in a handful of luxury and high-end cars in Australia and is offered as a relatively expensive option by many premium and mainstream manufacturers.
Data attached to ANCAP and AMA’s joint press release claims that AEB systems have been shown to reduce rear-end crashes by more than 38 per cent.
Road trauma costs Australia an estimated $27 billion per year, or $70 million per day – equivalent to the national Defence budget.