Thatcham Research reiterated their approach to addressing the UK’s whiplash epidemic at today’s Lyons Davidson International Whiplash Conference in Bristol.

Speaking alongside some of the world leading experts on the topic, Head of Research at the insurers’ research centre, Matthew Avery, told delegates that engineering holds the key, through the continued introduction and availability of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS) to prevent and mitigate accidents.

Whilst a wide range of ADAS systems are already providing many motorists with an additional level of safety, it is Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems in particular that are integral in preventing whiplash. Avery pointed to real world international claims data demonstrating a claims frequency reduction of both personal injury and accident damage of more than 25% in a year long study based on Volvo’s AEB system ‘City Safety’. Other international studies reveal a similar trend for crash reduction associated with AEB fitment and dependent upon the functionality of individual systems.

The vehicle safety experts at Thatcham Research firmly believe that AEB technologies are fundamental in reducing crashes and consequently whiplash claims and are working on a number of initiatives both with insurers and vehicle manufacturers to drive this forward.

These include the development of AEB testing protocols to measure system performance both for car-to-car and car-to-pedestrian impact scenarios – Thatcham are proposing these test procedures to Euro NCAP, the European vehicle safety organisation, for consideration on potential inclusion within their vehicle safety ratings by 2014.

Meanwhile, Avery also revealed that a proposal for AEB to be recognised within the Group Rating system is currently being considered, which has the potential to reduce premiums with standard fitment of such systems.

“The effectiveness of AEB systems as primary vehicle safety technologies in preventing accidents from occurring in the first place is the key to reducing both personal injury and accident damage claims. As we see more and more manufacturers beginning to offer effective crash prevention systems on a range of mainstream, volume selling vehicles, we should begin to see a reduction in claims, which can only be good news for insurers and motorists. Through our testing protocols and with ongoing support from manufacturers, key safety organisations and stakeholders, Thatcham will continue to drive the quality and range of available systems with the view that prevention is better than cure” – Matthew Avery, Head of Research at Thatcham.