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New safety systems 'to save lives'

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Thousands of pedestrian casualties could be prevented every year in the UK by new safety systems fitted in cars, according to a report.

Thatcham, the Motor Insurance Repair Research Centre, says that once all production cars come with the new Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems as standard, it will mean nearly 2,700 fewer injuries and deaths among pedestrians each year.

AEB systems include a range of Thatcham-tested technologies that use radar, camera and lasers to stop a car before it hits a pedestrian.

Some of the technologies could help prevent as many as 160,000 whiplash injuries, which form a large proportion of car insurance claims in the UK every year.

In-built safety systems could help avoid rear-end shunt, which is the most common cause of painful neck injuries.

Thatcham said researchers designed the new systems based on real life data gathered from the scene of hundreds of accidents with the help of emergency services.

Ninety two per cent of pedestrian collisions occur at speeds of 30mph or under - within the performance limits of most new safety systems.

Six systems have been under test from vehicle manufacturers as diverse as BMW, Ford, Subaru, Toyota, Volvo and Mercedes. It is hoped that the Thatcham AEB protocols now being developed will be considered in any future Euro NCAP testing procedures.

© Press Association 2011