back to article Euro NCAP to mandate auto-braking in new-car test

Euro NCAP, the European car safety organisation, is to insist that, from 2014 onwards, all vehicles seeking its approval must be able to hit the anchors without driver intervention. From that date, so-called Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) technology will be required by any car seeking a New Car Assessment Programme rating …

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Re: ABS as well?

ABS is designed to help you retain control NOT stop you faster. Common misconception. Its a PITA on snow though as it destroys the snow wedge that forms and helps you stay in control/stop

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Re: ABS as well?

Eh? Sounds like a design flaw in a particular model to me, not anything resembling a natural occurrence that's part-and-parcel of having ABS.

I drive a 1995 car. The ABS works perfectly. I can attest to that, especially that year of bad snow when I was driving through Europe and the Alps with it on virtually solid ice and I felt it kick it all the time (my demo to a German acquaintance who was front passenger was to slam on the brakes at 10mph on solid ice/snow and see the stopping distance on a completely empty / straight road - shocked him just how far you can go even with ABS, and shut him up about me having an enormous braking distance in front of me all the time).

The ABS hasn't got much exercise outside that and didn't for years (it was sitting on someone's drive for years, according to the paperwork), and I've never had to service the ABS side of it, ever. My dad is a mechanic of 40 years (actually engineer for an entire fleet for many years) and distrusts all modern technology on a car, but he'd have mentioned it or forbade me to drive the car until he'd checked it, if it was that common for ABS. Maybe you're just buying junk?

ABS only falls below the braking power of an experienced driver on completely loose gravel (like a private driveway), compared to non-ABS cars. In all other circumstances, it's better than a skilled driver doing any amount of brake-pumping (and rightly so - can you detect wheel slippage and completely come off the brake and reapply dozens of times a second? No.), and in that circumstance that it's inferior on, it's not inferior by much and is so uncommon as to not be worth worrying about (unless you WANT to skid into a gravel driveway at 70mph). On classic roads, ice, snow, etc. it's actually far superior. That's *WHY* it's mandated.

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But sadly..

.. for ABS to work, it needs a car to have the ability to STOP braking, under electronic control. And that's exactly what researchers used when they were researching remote hacking of cars: they locked up ABS so you had NO brakes. None whatsoever.

That's why I have reservations about mandating more gadgetry - let's first sort out the security issues. Otherwise I'll order my car just "before* this comes in..

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Re: ABS as well?

Actually, ABS can be a real pain to me at times. I regularly drive along a lane which can often have mud at the side, whilst the crown can be clear and dry. The number of times the ABS engages under even mild braking is alarming, as is the times it even operates under acceleration!

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Anonymous Coward

Maybe a better idea

would be a system which cut power when you get too close to the car in front ?

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Facepalm

So who pays for the extra £1k onto the price of a car?, since the last car I looked to add it to actually charged abouty £1600 for the extra?

As to the actual implementation, current ones seem to operate only under 30MPH so overtaking shoulnd't be an issue I assume....

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The idiot that buys a brand new car. Can't say that I've ever seen the value in a new car whatsoever.

And by the time it's on the secondhand market there will be YEARS of car where it's been compulsory, so cars will all have it after a certain time, and thus it will add £0 to the price that the secondhand buyer's willing to pay.

Depreciation with a car is a given. Similarly, I never paid any extra because my 1995 Mondeo has an air bag, electric windows or a larger engine. By the time a car hits the second hand market all the "compulsory" items are standard and you won't pay extra at all for them and all the fancy "extras" like stereos, electric windows, sunroof, etc. factor so little into the cost that it's not worth worrying about.

It's only the first-buyer who's silly enough to pay through the nose for those items in the first place, and absorb the cost of the car. Everyone after that profits purely from his acceptance of depreciation. In a few years, your car won't sell for more than a few grand. It's as simple as that. And even then, I'd consider that expensive.

Had my car for about 4 years now. 50mpg. Perfect running. Still going strong, still "empty" MOT certificates (last "problem" was a cracked windscreen washer bottle), still perfectly drivable. Cost me £300 when I bought it and I've spent about the same again on essential replacements (e.g. tyres). Hell, when the front windscreen caught a stone, I didn't bother to claim it on my insurance because it only cost £100 to get a full replacement with heating elements, fitted on my front lawn. And when someone scratches your door in a car park... meh, who cares?

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New Cars?

I bought a new car back in 1999 and I've still got it now. Bits are starting to wear out, but I think I've had full value from the purchase. However, no electric windows, no sunroof, no ABS, which is probably why it's still going.

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IT Angle

Why buy new?

If you can afford a new car, I see no problem buying a brand new car.

If you can afford a new laptop, I see no problem buying a brand new laptop.

If you can afford a new mobile phone, I see no problem buying a brand new mobile phone.

What's the difference?

I can see a lot of value in a new car: Warranty, no MOT tests for the first years, A/C standard, known history, they're safer (eg. passenger/side airbags, isofix mountings), and of course the luxury of the new car smell. :-)

If you still truly see no value in a new car, your reality distortion field is working very well!

Your yearly vehicle tax is £220 whereas a new diesel Mondeo has a tax of £30 to £125 depending on engine size. And the mileage is better too. Factor that into your calculations too.

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Re: Why buy new?

And factor in after that.. new car depreitaion in the first year is more than my annual yearly spend in entirety (fuel, tax, insuarnce and MOT) in a year. My SAAB 900 convrtible cost less than £500 (It's now worth quiet a bit more), to pass the MOT last time when it was due cost... £54 (the cost of the test) I can work on it myself so serviceing is easy and in 5 years its needed nothing more very glad I opted out of the company car for somthing a bit differnt the new cars I had then were far more troublesome, sorry new cars make no sence whatsoever. New modeo diesels eat injectors as well which is not cheap, soon kills any savings on fuel and tax over the petrol one. BMW diesles are even worse with flywheel issues.

I am now looking for a Sereis 1 XJ6 pre dec 31st '72 to run on LPG

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Re: Why buy new?

The difference between you and me is that I'm just an IT geek - I can't service my car and I'm not even interested in it.

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Even better idea

Insist on cruise control being installed in every car then the car in front will be much less likely to randomly change speed.

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Unhappy

Re: Even better idea

I really dislike cruise control.

It means that drivers have an incentive not to maintain a good separation between them and the car in front because they have to disable it (and thus re-enable it) to do so.

It probably also increases stopping distance because they won't have their foot on a pedal - so further to physically move before braking starts.

I've driven a few cars with it, tried it out and decided that I had less control of the vehicle so I don't use it at all now.

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FAIL

@Richard 12

It means that drivers have an incentive not to maintain a good separation between them and the car in front because they have to disable it (and thus re-enable it) to do so.

My experience is the exact opposite.

You have to have quite a lot more separation between you and the car in front to make the most of the cruise control, for exactly the reason you mention.

If you don't, then you have to disable and re-enable it to not bump into the car in front.

By keeping a good distance, you can drive on cruise control by adjusting your speed with the steering wheel buttons.

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Re: @Richard 12

Cruise control also cuts down *substantially* on speeding tickets ..

My fav use of cruise control is alongside roadworks which narrow the road. If traffic allows (you need some room) I set speed at what is allowed, which then leaves me 100% free to watch the road and other drivers instead of having to guard against going 3 miles over and being penalised for watching traffic for safety reasons..

Oh, and smooth changes of speed are good for fuel consumption.

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Re: @Richard 12

Yes, to drive safely you do have to do that.

However, if you take a look at a motorway you'll clearly that that very few drivers really do so.

I see a lot of tailgating action on the motorways that looks exactly like "Set cruise control slightly too fast, get really close to the car in front then suddenly realise too close and slow down a lot."

Oddly enough, almost always the cars that have this feature as standard.

Adaptive cruise control is supposed to fix that, perhaps it does.

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There is too much technology in cars already, this will just add more expense to the owner.

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Hmmmmm

I haven't had the experience of driving a car with low speed AEB yet, but my '03 Nissan with lidar-based adaptive cruise control has a irritating tendency to "shy" and brake when approaching curves in the road, alongside tatty hedges, and when approaching low mounted curbside signs on the A3. I've experienced similar things in friends' more recent Toyotas too.

I hope the technology has improved somewhat in the last 7-8 years.

(lidar-assisted ACC only works above 25mph, but once you have lidar assisted braking then the only extra electronics cost to add cruise control is for the steering wheel controls.)

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Anonymous Coward

can reduce the number of accidents on Europe's roads by 27 per cent.

Or maybe they could just teach the drivers to drive competently and enforce a decent standard to get a permit. Italians especially must be the worst in developed Europe, (expat in Italy).

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FAIL

Hmm...

I can't help feeling that "I though my car was going to brake, but it didn't" is going to look rather stupid on an accident claim form.

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Coffee/keyboard

2 words....

Renault

Electronics.

Hahahahaha

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Re: 2 words....

Peugeot!

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Anonymous Coward

More popular than the article suggests

The new Mazda CX-5 comes with it as standard, it's even an option on the Skoda Citigo, it has been an option on the Honda CR-V (the Advanced Safety Pack)...

These devices work at speeds below 29mph - quite a nice option at low speeds and sometimes combined with adaptive cruise control it makes sense to maximise use of the technology installed.

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FAIL

Hang on...

Are you saying that a car will get no NCAP stars at all if it doesn't have such a system, or just that it'll lose a few points. I can't see this being the former, especially if this is less than 18 months away.

I'd happily buy a 0*-NCAP rated car. In fact I have, when I bought a rather old one a few years ago.

If, as people are suggesting, this might be a low-speed only system, then while it may reduce prangs by a certain percentage, it'll be the less severe and dangerous ones. Whoop de do.

Oh, and to the person who suggested that it'll have no impact on price because options' values are largely wiped out come resale time, and that only idiots should buy new: guess what - if it wasn't for those idiots then there would be a smaller used car market which would push up prices. The cost of these options is hidden in the prices of all stuff that these depreciating assets are used to do and the companies and other organisations which use them. There is so much economics fail in your post it's practically unquantifiable.

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Re: Hang on...

I didn't suggest that new-car-buyers weren't necessary. Hell, I've only ever owned second-hand.

I merely pointed out, to answer the question about who's going to PAY for this, that the only people who would pay for those extras are the new-car-buyers. By the time those cars filter to the second-hand car market, the "cost" of those extra parts would be a tiny percentage of a tiny amount of money in comparison.

That's the cost of buying a new car, that the next buyer will see all your fancy extras and expenses as nothing worth paying extra for. Hell, even if you go by *percentage*, the used-car-buyer probably pays even less a percentage of their overall purchase cost for such fancy addon's than the new-car-buyer did (i.e. if the extras cost 10% of the price of a new car, the second-hand buyer would almost certainly value them at less than 10% of the second-hand cost!).

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Facepalm

Hello considerate driver...

@Alex King: "If, as people are suggesting, this might be a low-speed only system, then while it may reduce prangs by a certain percentage, it'll be the less severe and dangerous ones. Whoop de do."

Less severe and dangerous for *you* - but will probably cover most cases of you hitting pedestrians and cyclists (be it your fault or theirs). Still, that's not important is it? Whoop de do.

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Unhappy

Safety enhancements are used as performance enhancements

Oh dear. This "safety" enhancement will very rapidly be turned into a performance enhancement. Drivers will learn to drive with reduced margins of error and thus much less safety. If you know that the car will brake automatically, at the very last minute, then you can save effort and potentially shave a few milliseconds off your journey by letting the car do the braking.

Our roads don't need safer cars, they need cars that are less dangerous for everyone and everything not in a car. That means cars that have MUCH less kinetic energy when moving, wherever they might come into contact with car-less human beings.

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Re: Safety enhancements are used as performance enhancements

It's generally agreed and proven that the best way to improve vehicle safety would be to mandate mounting a large spike in the centre of every steering wheel that would skewer the driver if they ever had an accident or brake too hard. It's a cast-iron guarantee that people with those cars would drive more slowly and more carefully and take all the harsh abuse of the cars steering/braking out of their daily commute.

Pulling a car down to having so little kinetic energy that it wouldn't kill a pedestrian is almost impossible. Even a bike can kill at 20+mph. You'd literally have to go back to little men walking in front of the car with a red flag, and even then it wouldn't be accident-free (fork-trucks are usually very low speed but can easily kill people if they back into them near a solid object - hey you can take an entire superstore out if you're not careful when loading the shelves with one at <5mph).

The better thing would be separation. Move the dangerous, fast-moving, heavy things away from the fragile items. Follow Belgium's example and put all the roads underground. Don't have "streets", have pedestrian areas and vehicle areas clearly separated and make the speed limit 5mph where the two meet.

But, some would argue, the riots involved in taking away current freedoms, changing EVERY road and every vehicle and every driving law would probably hurt more people than they would have saved in road safety.

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Terrifying

On a narrow road I sometimes decide to speed up to pass an approaching car where the road gets wider.

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@Hmm..

I can foresee complications when someone used to automatic braking drives another car without it.

Also, it's another turn of the screw towards central supervision of driver behaviour, with external control of anything that doesn't comply with current requirements/thinking.

Glad I've got a motorbike...

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Re: @Hmm..

As a biker you will of course be aware of all those wonderful ideas that come out of TRL such as predictive braking based on GPS saying you are approaching a bend too fast, not to mention that horrendous idea (which fortunately got quietly shelved) where they planned a chest-rest plate to stop bikers being thrown off the bike in a collision.

'Motorbikes are dangerous' say that statisticians so they get lots more safety improvements proposed than cars even if they are neither safe nor an improvement,

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Megaphone

Re: @Hmm..

Motorcycles are just too hard to fit safety gizmos to and expect them to work,

Combined Brakes, ABS and Traction Control - You're still going to crash, eventually. If you really want to save some lives, stop idiot car drivers using the bloody phone while driving, the last time I got taken out on my bike some idiot on a phone changed lane with no warning, no indicator and didn't look. It amazes me how many people still drive on the phone. Why concentrate on high tech solutions when the problem is the driver being either unable to drive safely or so distracted that they aren't paying attention. When you are driving a two ton suit of armour then people think they are invulnerable. I have a plan for this - make people commute to work for one week a year on a little 50cc scooter - let's see how much attention you have to pay to traffic now without crumple zones.

The thing I find really amazing is that a non-government organisation is effectively dictating European policy because, as you correctly point out - most people won't buy a car without an NCAP rating.

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make people commute to work for one week a year on a little 50cc scooter

I agree. After making them commute to work for one week a year on a bicycle. Then they will see what a threat "little 50cc scooters" can be - even when not ignoring the advanced stop lines.

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FAIL

Speed

And at what speed will such braking systems come into play? I'm not into cars that much, but the only adverts I've noticed for auto braking have legal fine print that says they only work upto 20mph.

I can't see them working at speed higher than that AND knowing what the driver really intends to do.

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WTF?

I wonder what happens...

...if you're driving cautiously on an icy road, and a car in front stops. You would want to reduce your speed veeery gradually, to stop sliding.

If you reduce speed gradually, the electronics might not think you were braking fast enough, and might apply them a bit harder?

Just asking......

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Re: I wonder what happens...

The car has an antilock braking system. This will limit the action of the brakes in the same way that it would if you slammed your foot on the pedal, and stop you from sliding.

But of course you'd never be in that situation because you'd be obeying the Highway Code's rules on stopping distance.

Just answering.....

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vs spending money on learning to drive properly

These devices have a cost, I bet my left arm (because my right one is now faulty due to an non-fault RTA) , that if the same money was spent on improving driving skills there would be a better benefit to general road safety than relying on electronics.

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Facepalm

Re: vs spending money on learning to drive properly

ah but improving ones driving skills or actually paying attention would be too much of an effort especially for the French. I'm currently working in France and the driving standards here are so appalling I fear for my life every time I drive. This is mostly due to them being too ignorant to realise that driving 2ft from the car in front or overtaking without being able to see ahead is in any way dangerous and also due to them being drunk most of the time. This new braking system would help preventing rear shunts over here but as the French only drive clapped out unserviced French cars the systems will most likely never work anyway.

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Anonymous Coward

How about making ABS a legal requirement for all new cars instead?

Why would the driver not break anyway, there are many reasons and most of them will be do to with not looking at the road or being asleep.

If the car does auto-break then this fact should be recorded on their driving licence and a driving ban imposed with immediate effect.

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FAIL

Auto 'break'

Last car that did that to me was a Peugeot. Ohhhh, you meant brake!

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Has been, since 2007, in the EU.

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That will be definitely ...

... the last time I will buy a new car.

I'm an owner of one of these beloved German premium cars € 40.000 and up.

Since 2 years this car pesters me with an alert that there is an error within the ESP.

When I asked the technician during last years general service to read out error

storage and resolve the error he read out error storage and told me it was a loose

connection with one of the motion sensors but as it was no permanent failure the

error got reset every time I switched off the engine and to solve it it would be necessary

to disassemble part of the car and check all connectors resulting in a bill € 300 at

least if he did find it quick and open ended depending on time needed to check the

complete electrical system and system electronics.

There are already too much electronics in our cars. Moore? No, thank you!

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Re: That will be definitely ...

If you can afford a 40,000 Euro car, I'd assume you can afford the 300 Euros as a one-off expense one a year or so to keep it in check and passing the required tests, personally. If you can't.... well, that's a situation that you could have foreseen no matter what the problem was: "300 Euros for a new wing mirror?!". You also have it serviced, presumably by the manufacturer, but I'm assuming outside warranty?

That said, you've now left it for 2 years with that problem, so it's obviously not that much of a bugbear or you'd have fixed it.

This is why I stay away from THAT manufacturer, nothing to do with new or old. Hell, last time I helped out a neighbour, they wanted to sell you a £300 cable to provide a "normal" OBD-II socket out of the car because there's was non-standard.

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FAIL

What about tailing motorbikes?

There's a recognised theory called "risk compensation theory" which basically shows that the safer people believe they are the shitter they drive. This is all well and good for the person *in* the car but not for third parties.

So you've got every car with auto-braking to the point that no one actually bothers about braking because the car will do it for them anyway. What happens when you're following a motorcycle that has to brake suddenly. Its a skinny vehicle. The radar better work with them or I can see a lot of bikers being killed by being taken out by cars that never braked when they should have done.

Cars are never the only type of vehicle on the roads and assuming they are is bad.

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@gagaga

"Electronics" vs "connectors" - which are mechanical (but still a lot more reliable than they used to be).

The number of genuine electronics faults on vehicles is dwarfed by the number of bad connectors - or faults caused by stupid mechanical design such as Volkswagon putting the ECU in the bottom of the passenger footwell, under the carpet, right where it's going ot get flooded if the windows are left down in a storm, or there's a coolant leak inside the cabin, or if the windscreen leaks. (All of which I've seen happen - and even then it was because the connectors all corroded and went unreliable)

It's amazing how many faults could simply be mitigated entirely by using grease-filled connectors to completely eliminate water ingress - but that adds 0.1p per plug and therefore costs too much.

As for your sensor problem - as long as you don't switch the car off, the tech can tell you _which_ sensor is playing up - and it's most likely to be the plug nearest the suspension/wheel hub as these are subjected to the most in-use stress. the old rule about never trusting the accredited stealership applies. (An Ex-gf spent 2k on her Mercedes after the dealer told her a bunch of electronics was faulty. Turned out to be a faulty thermostat (40 quid part) keeping the engine cold which in turn caused a cascade of other errors to be logged - the valve position isn't monitored, but any fool could tell there was something wrong by feeling a stone cold engine - Something the "experts" apparently didn't bother to do)

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Re: @gagaga

I've given up with the stealers as well, Audi told me the TT needed a new computer at a fitted cost of $2k, I thought at that price I'd get a second opinion and the very nice man who is now looks after my cars diagnosed a faulty connection that made it look to the automated test kit that the computer was shot. Repair cost of $500 if I wanted it done nicely with the new part from audi or $130 if he replaced the cable and put it back in himself. Given it was a 10 year old car repair cost of $130 plus a couple of packs of beer as a little thank you

Question for those who might know this, to work at the stealers do you need to know ANYTHING about the car or is the ability to plug in the self diagnosis kit enough? Are there skilled people back there that are not allowed to actually check and diagnose problems or do they just not care anymore?

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WTF?

All will?

"That means they effectively all will, since no one's going to buy a new car that lacks an NCAP rating."

No. There are quite a lot of low volume cars that don't have NCAP ratings and will no doubt continue that way.

Btw it won't stop the vehicle behind slamming into you when your brakes come on before its driver has reacted to the situation.

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Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

What is it with you lot? As soon as someone even DARES to suggest making a change to your cars you all become chest beating neanderthals! "What if the system suddenly steals my soul and blots out the sun forever?" Seriously? Listen to yourselves. You work in (or have links to) IT and yet dozens of you SERIOUSLY believed that NCAP were so fucking stupid they were going to insist every car had a system so stuperfyingly dangerous it would instantly kill you if a plastic bag blew across a motorway. Even AFTER it had been explained to you that the people that designed the system had GCSEs in not being utterly moronic and had given this thing more than 30s drunken thought the posts have continued to flood in with "But it will deliberately try to kill me if....".

I absolutely dispair sometimes.

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Re: Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

Well said (except for the 'dispair' bit). And how many commentors actually read the NCAP article in question? I reckon none, given the ignorance of some of the comments on here.

Personally, I would like to see more of the details and statistics and think about it, rather than coming to a knee-jerk reaction approx. 8 seconds after reading a 300 word Reg article. I reckon that the folk at Euro NCAP have given it a lot more thought than *everyone* reading this article.

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Re: Unbelievable bunch of stoneage arseholes

Thank you for sparing me the trouble of having to say the same thing (though perhaps a little less trenchantly!). I can only conclude that the comical objections to this system come from some breed of macho motorist who sees their masculinity being undermined by the very notion that something could control their vehicle better than they could and dares to take away their ability to do absolutely anything that they like with it. Notice that their concerns are almost entirely how the technology will affect *them* rather than other parties involved in a collision, and that it's either the technology or the other parties who cause these collisions, never them. Moreover, those other parties are stereotypes conveniently drawn from one end of the spectrum ("the Audi") or the other ("Miss Daisy").

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