What is Brake Assist?
Brake Assist in emergency situations is a technology which comes as standard on some new cars and has been proposed by the car industry and the European Commission as part of an EU legislative package on pedestrian protection (as a substitute for more stringent tests aimed at better crash protection). It aims to address the problem of insufficient pressure being applied to the brake by drivers in emergency situations, so increasing stopping distances. Car manufacturing trials have shown that brake assistance systems could help by providing full braking effect, where the driver does not press hard enough on the pedal. In marketing material, Daimler Chrysler indicate that for a car braking at 100km/h, Brake Assist can reduce the normal stopping distance by 45%. Brake assistance systems can use the ABS capability to allow heavy braking without the risk of wheel locking, but have to distinguish between emergency and normal braking as well as respond appropriately to reduced brake pressure.
Casualty reduction effect?
While various prospective estimates have been made, the casualty reduction effect of Brake Assist has yet to be scientifically established . In general most of the devices described for improvement of braking and handling interfere with driver behaviour, and the questions of driver acceptance, risk compensation and driver reaction when the system is activated are important (especially for old drivers). There is no standard method to assess the safety performance of these devices, which makes it difficult to estimate their potential benefits; moreover, under the same name very different systems can be found, as each manufacturer has its own specification.