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Demand auto braking now, says ANCAP

Make demands: ANCAP chief executive Nicholas Clarke has urged fleet managers to demand automatic emergency braking on cars they purchase.

Fleet managers urged to push hard for latest anti-crash technology

General News logo15 Apr 2015

By IAN PORTER

FLEET managers should heap pressure on vehicle suppliers to make automatic emergency braking (AEB) available on their vehicles, according to Australia's independent crash safety watchdog.

Just leaving it to market forces would not produce a timely result, Australian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) chief executive Nicholas Clarke told the annual conference of the Australasian Fleet Managers Association (AFMA) in Melbourne.

And waiting for governments to introduce regulations would take almost as long, a United States study had shown, Mr Clarke said,“It does take a long time to actually get regulation in place,” he said.

Mr Clarke said a regulation making AEB compulsory would have to work its way through the global bureaucracy.

“We are tied up in the United Nations process through Working Party 29,” he said.

“These sorts of things have to be worked through at an international level, and the progress can be glacial.

“And that’s why we are looking for non-regulatory ways for putting the technology into vehicles, and demand is the simple answer.”

ANCAP has already announced that it will harmonise its testing procedures with the Euro NCAP system, and that will mean vehicles will have to have AEB before they can score a five-star rating from 2018.

But in his address to the AFMA conference, Mr Clarke urged fleet managers to insist on AEB in any new vehicle they buy.

“Demand is the simple answer, and the manufacturers tell us that. If we can get consumers to demand a product, the manufacturers will put it in,” he said.

“We only need to crack open the nut. As soon as we can get a few cars with it and consumers buy those, the others will follow along.”

Mr Clarke said price should not be a hurdle for the adoption of AEB.

“We had AEB in the Volkswagen Up, two or three years ago. That was a $15,000 car.”

He said AEB had been around for a decade, initially in high-end cars.

However, he conceded hat the Australian market was perhaps the most competitive in the world and that this brought pricing pressures for the manufacturers.

“There is a price sensitivity in the market here and the manufacturers operate within those price pressures.”“It’s a very small market and highly competitive.”

Mr Clarke said ANCAP was running an informal campaign to get the message out so that more buyers would demand AEB in their vehicles.

“What we are doing is talking to groups like AFMA and other similar industry organisations to convince their members they should all be driving five-star cars, and largely they are.

“We are trying to build that same impetus for AEB.”

Mr Clarke acknowledged that some cars that come to Australia without AEB offer it in other markets.

“Sometimes it’s not a case of it’s not available,” he said. “Sometimes it’s a case of, if you buy it, you also have to take the top-end sound system, moonlight glass roof and the leather seats.”“The Victorian Parliamentary Road Safety Committee seven or eight years ago said it was immoral for luxury items to be packaged with safety, and here we are all this time later still seeing it occasionally.”“Cup holders can be optional, not safety.”

Even though fleet managers now faced severe fines or even jail for not providing a safe workplace, it was still necessary to repeat the safety message as often as possible, Mr Clarke said.

“One thing we have learned over time is that you have to keep banging the drum because it’s easily forgotten.

“Everybody’s got their day job to do, everybody’s busy and everybody’s under pressure and things can be out of sight, out if mind.

“Fleet managers have the power, but it is necessary to demand high technology in your cars.

“We want you to say to the manufacturers ‘I want an ANCAP five-star car’,” he said.

“If fleets can pressure the car manufacturers, they will rise to the challenge.”

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