Thatcham Research reveals top ten safest cars of the year



Thatcham Research has revealed the ten-car long list for the What Car? Safety Award 2018. As the panel of expert judges gather to decide on the year’s safest car, their focus will be on emerging car safety technologies designed to prevent accidents.

Vehicles must have standard-fit Lane Keep Assist systems, to help avoid some of the most dangerous collision types seen on UK roads. All the top ten cars also have standard-fit Autonomous Emergency Braking systems, which operate at city and motorway speeds and can detect pedestrians. Judges will give extra merit to vehicles with AEB systems that can identify cyclists and other vulnerable road users.

“The top ten safest cars of the year all have standard-fit Lane Keep Assist systems. These systems actively steer away from road edges and lane markings to prevent dangerous ‘run-off road’ and head-on accidents. With 6% of A-Road crashes involving head-on collisions, this should be the next life-saving technology fitted by carmakers who want to signal their intent to prioritise driver safety,” comments Matthew Avery, What Car? Safety Award panellist and director of research at Thatcham Research.

“Drivers buying a new car should expect AEB on their vehicle. It’s now an essential standard-fit safety system, just like the seatbelt,” says Avery. “And if the car doesn’t have AEB? Walk away and find one which does.”

Car safety tech to watch out for

The What Car? Safety Award judges will also examine the performance of differing AEB systems, and other car safety technologies such as:

Adaptive Cruise Control (ACC): As with AEB, ACC can use cameras, radar or lidar to determine the gap to the vehicle in front. Unlike normal cruise control, adaptive systems use the radar (or sometimes camera) to maintain a safe following distance, regardless of the speed set. Drivers that use ACC have been shown to have fewer collisions since it helps to condition the driver to maintain a safe distance to the car in front.

Blind Spot Indication System (BLIS): Stops drivers moving into the path of an overtaking vehicle that is hidden in the blind spot. It commonly uses radar, to sense the presence of another vehicle including motorcycles and will give a visual or audible warning – usually a light in the wing mirror or door pillar – to alert the driver. Some intervene by braking or steering back into lane.

Cyclist AEB: Vulnerable road users, including cyclists and pedestrians, account for 30% of all fatalities or serious injuries across the EU each year. The smaller size and more erratic movement of cyclists compared with cars makes them harder for standard AEB systems to track. As with pedestrian AEB, cyclist detection systems use better sensors and algorithms to detect the presence of cyclists and respond to their movements. The performance of AEB systems in detecting cyclists is coming into Euro NCAP test protocols from 2018.

Driver Monitoring: Some systems can monitor and warn the driver if they are distracted or have been inattentive for a prolonged period – and some which will pull the car over to the side of the road if the driver has not responded.

Rear Cross Traffic Alert: monitors an approaching vehicle from the side and warns the driver or applies the brakes to prevent them from reversing from a parking space into the path of another vehicle.

The 10 safest cars of 2017

Honda Civic

Mercedes X-Class

Subaru Impreza

Subaru XV

Toyota C-HR

Vauxhall Insignia

Volvo S90 / V90

Volvo XC60

VW Arteon

VW T-Roc


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