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Department of Transport and Main Roads

Forward collision avoidance technology

To reduce the number and severity of forward collisions (head on crashes) the Department of Transport and Main Roads investigated new vehicle safety technology—forward collision avoidance technology (FCAT), also known as autonomous emergency braking (AEB).

Forward collisions, including pedestrian impacts, are the most common cause of road fatalities in Queensland.

What is FCAT?

FCAT systems sense other road users or objects in front of the vehicle. The system reacts (either with driver assistance or autonomously) to possible crash hazards. This includes:

  • priming brake systems
  • warning the driver
  • applying gentle or more aggressive braking.

Our recommendation

When purchasing a new vehicle consider vehicles with forward collision avoidance technology (autonomous emergency braking).

Read the full report or see a summary of our findings below.

How it can help you avoid a crash

FCAT can be effective by:

  • warning the driver of a potential collision threat whilst travelling along a highway or in traffic. If the driver does not respond to the warnings, the system can reduce the vehicle's speed
  • emergency stopping if a pedestrian walks in front of it
  • preventing a stationary vehicle from driving forward into the rear of another stationary vehicle.

Various technologies have been developed for FCAT systems, differing in:

  • detection range
  • responsiveness.

Our analysis shows there are potential benefits of having FCAT in your vehicle. The greatest benefit can be seen with a combination of long range detection (e.g. adaptive cruise control) with a short range, wide angle system (e.g. pedestrian detection).

Economic benefits

The detailed study of Australian crashes found forward collision avoidance technology would have reduced the number of fatalities and severity of injuries. Crash data estimates the introduction of FCAT systems may result in:

  • 20 to 40 per cent reduction in the number and severity of fatal crashes
  • 30 to 50 per cent reduction of all injuries.

The benefits are measured in lives, injuries and money saved by preventing or reducing the severity of forward collision crashes.

Insurers are now offering significant discounts of up to 20 per cent on insurance premiums for FCAT equipped vehicles.

Heavy vehicles

The benefits of FCAT (avoiding injury, damage and loss of productivity) are especially strong for heavy vehicles. Over the life of a heavy vehicle, the average benefit from fitting a FCAT system is about $13,700, far exceeding the estimated cost of $1,400 to $5,000 per vehicle fit out.

Buying a vehicle with forward collision avoidance technology

A number of vehicle manufacturers offer forward collision avoidance systems, often as part of an integrated advanced driver assistance system which may include other key functions such as:

  • adaptive cruise control—designed to maintain a safe distance from the car in front, irrespective of the varying speed of that vehicle
  • lane departure warning—alerts the driver if the system determines the car is drifting across clearly marked lanes
  • lead vehicle start alert—when an equipped vehicle is stopped and the vehicle in front starts to move, the driver receives an audible reminder and/or visual display indicator notifying that the vehicle in front has moved
  • pre-collision throttle management—if a driver applies full throttle close to a barrier or large object situated in front of the car (such as a car park wall or vehicle immediately ahead at close range), the system inhibits the throttle opening, helping to minimise or potentially avoid an impact. This will also assist in helping to reduce impacts in situations when 'drive' is accidently selected instead of 'reverse'
  • vehicle sway warning—alerts the driver if the car starts to drift from one side of the road to another, which may occur with the onset of driver fatigue.

Consult your dealer for a list of models that offer these systems. Be aware manufacturers refer to forward collision avoidance systems by different names such as autonomous emergency braking.

Also get advice from insurers about discounts for vehicles equipped with crash avoidance technology.

Last updated 12 July 2022