However, not many people are aware that Continental are categorically the world leader in the manufacture of electronic automotive safety technologies.
It should come as no surprise. Continental has been a pioneer in road safety for more than 140 years. Driver safety has been - and always will be - at the heart of our company ethos.
And as one of the biggest driver safety experts in the world, Continental has set itself the ambitious goal of evolving from best in braking to zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents. And for good reason. Only Continental understands the entire braking process in every detail – from pedal to tyre.
The numbers are staggering
While we all know that road accidents occur, the overwhelming majority of people don’t fully appreciate just how many accidents, injuries and fatalities take place around the world every day.
There are an astonishing 1.25 million fatalities on the world’s roads every year, equating to over 3,400 per day. In the UK alone there are over 180,000 road accidents each year, with on average five road users a day not making it home – that’s 1,825 fatalities a year, with a further sixty-three road-users experiencing life changing injuries each day. Is it any wonder Continental are committed to confronting this issue?
Leader of the pack
Zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents. It’s an unquestionably huge ambition, but one we’re extremely confident of achieving in the not so distant future.
Why? Because, being at the forefront of the development and delivery of electronic automotive safety technology solutions, we know first hand what has already been – and what will be – achieved.
Many of the driver safety technologies now fitted as standard on the majority of the world's new cars have been developed by Continental. We continue to not only drive but lead this increasingly important automotive necessity. Our driver safety research and development programme is unrivalled.
But this is not enough. At Continental we realise that automotive technology is only one of four essential pillars that need to be in place to achieve zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents:
Central to this philosophy is the Driver. That’s why Continental are proud to present our Vision Zero Live events to UK and Ireland drivers and retailers.
Summer / Autumn 2017 has seen Continental present a series of Vision Zero Live events in locations across the UK and Ireland, including Gloucestershire, Leicestershire, Yorkshire and Co. Kildare. These have proved to be an unqualified success, with both drivers and tyre retailers alike introduced to Continental’s wide range of electronic automotive safety technology solutions. Participants have also gained a first hand experience (as both a driver and passenger) of how the quality of a tyre positively or negatively affects driving.
Live demonstrations featured:
These driver safety modules provided participants with a wide range of insights and experiences, all designed to demonstrate first-hand the difference that premium tyres and electronic automotive safety technology makes to driving. Highlights included:
From Anti-lock Braking System (ABS) to Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB), and Electronic Stability Control (ESC) to world-leading premium tyres, participants at our Vision Zero Live events had the chance to discover the role Continental’s automotive safety technology plays in improving driver safety.
Many were surprised to learn that our electronic automotive technology is central to achieving driver safety in the majority of new cars that roll off the factory floor and into the showroom. Equally as surprising for many was the fact that over one in three new cars purchased by motorists in Europe are fitted with Continental tyres.
Of particular fascination was Continental’s groundbreaking Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) system, designed to monitor the road ahead (using state-of-art LIDAR technology) and automatically bring drivers to a safe stop (while driving at 30 mph or less) if an obstruction is detected ahead.
This was best illustrated by partcipants getting behind the wheel, setting off, and then relinquishing control as their vehicle headed towards an obstruction (in this case a mock-up of the rear end of a car). The experience was priceless, with many participants never having had the opportunity to see first hand how effective AEB can be, and the accidents it can prevent.
Using LIDAR – rapidly pulsing laser light that calculates distance – the ABS is being championed by the European Parliament’s Transport Committee with calls for this technology to be fitted to all new cars. It’s hard to imagine anyone who experienced Continental’s AEB at Vision Zero Live disagreeing.
What better way to demonstrate Continental’s leading Electronic Stability Control (ESC) technology than through the Elk Test. Those participants who had never heard of the Elk Test before – let alone experienced it – are not likely to forget it very soon. The test derives from the evasive maneuver experience that many Swedish drivers have undergone while trying to avoid wild elk that have wandered onto the road.
If you’re unsure of what an elk is, picture a large dear, then double it. Adult male elk can reach over two metres at the shoulder and weigh anything up to 850 kg. They’re big, really big, and so best avoided if you’re driving and headed straight at one.
At Vision Zero Live, participants got to experience first-hand Continental’s driving professionals demonstrating the Elk Test – using obstacles – as well as having a go themselves. Along with vehicles fitted with ESC, tests were undertaken using tyres with differing tread depths (from brand new 8mm to DVLA minimum recommendation 3mm, and then the (barely) UK legal 1.6mm) on both wet and dry surfaces, at speeds of 30 and 40 mph. Both premium Continental tyres and a selection of budget tyres were used, and the effectiveness of all combinations experienced.
The results were marked, with the 1.6mm tread budget tyres noticably sliding the car much wider when avoiding the ‘elk’, as well as proving less controllable when trying to steer the car’s direction back to the correct side of the road. This was especially noticeable on a wet track, indicative of typical UK driving conditions.
By comparison, the extra tread on the 3mm premium tyres provided more responsive control of the vehicle, allowing the drivers to swerve one way, then the other, with significantly greater precision. The difference in feeling between the two experiences was undeniable, and it came as no surprise to Continental that all of the participants expressed similar sentiments.
Much like the Elk Test, participants of the Vision Zero Live wet braking demonstrations came to experience first hand the significant difference between premium and budget tyres with 8mm, 3mm and 1.6mm of tread. But this time, rather than trying to avoid hitting an 'animal', their aim was to avoid human obstacles while travelling at 60 mph on a wet road surface. Of course the ‘humans’ were only dummies, but it soon became very evident that if the obstacles had been real people, or the back of a car, the outcome could have been fatal.
Less tread means reduced ability for tyres to disperse water from the road surface, resulting in significantly less grip and increased braking distances. It’s that simple. Add in the inferior compounds that budget tyres are typically made from and potentially you have a recipe for disaster. This was born out by the inability of both Continental’s professional drivers and event participants alike to successfully brake before hitting the the dummy humans while driving on budget tyres with only 1.6mm of tread.
By comparison, braking with 3mm tread on premium tyres proved to be much safer for both driver and dummy alike, offering significantly shorter braking distances in both dry and wet conditions. The differences in tyre quality were there for all to see, as were the surprised looks of many participants who had not previously realised the significance of tyre tread depth and tyre compound quality on their ability to brake safely.
It’s exactly this kind of driver realisation which motivates Continental to run our Vision Zero Live events for members of the public. Once you realise the importance of tyre tread depth, and the compound your tyres are made from, it’s hard to forget that it could be your loved one who’s fate may be decided by the quality of a driver’s tyres…
The importance of tyre pressures, and the consequences of driving on incorrectly inflated tyres, was explained by Continental’s event professionals. The revelation that under or over-inflated tyres have a detrimental effect on vehicle handling, and the ability to safely brake, was an eye opener to many participants. Just as surprising to many was the fact that the wrong tyre pressures have a marked financial impact on the amount of money drivers need to spend on fuel. Neither point was lost on participants.
To demonstrate this, participants took turns driving around our test tracks with two identical vehicles, one with correctly inflated tyres, one not. Each group were asked to see if they could detect which car was using an incorrectly inflated tyre, and too specify which tyre it was. While some were able to make the correct determination, many couldn’t, emphesising how important it is to regularly check tyre pressures.
Sticking with the theme of tyre inflation, of particular interest to Vision Zero Live participants was Continental’s unique ContiSeal™ extended mobility solution. While this tyre technology has been available for many years, not everyone was aware of it, and those who discovered it during the event were suitably impressed.
It’s not a surprising reaction really, since tyres that have ContiSeal™ automatically self-seal (from the inside) any ingress that punctures the tyre – up to 5mm in diameter (such as nail damage) – in an instant. The benefits are all to obvious, particularly if you consider that a puncture can occur at any time, including travelling at 70 mph on a motorway.
As a result, ContiSeal™ technology not only allows drivers to maintain tyre pressure and keep control of their vehicle, it also prevents them from having to pull over to change the tyre. This is a particularly important benefit for puncture incidents that occur on motorways. The latest DVLA figures show that the average time it takes for drivers to be hit while parked on the hard shoulder is just eleven minutes. That’s an astonishing statistic, and one which made all event participants pause for thought.
It should be noted that ContiSeal™ tyres are not a straight substitute for replacing punctured tyres – they’re only a safe and secure temporary stop-gap that provide drivers with the means to drive to a local garage (within 50 miles of the vehicles’ TPMS – Tyre Pressure Monitoring System – indicating that a puncture has occurred) to have their tyre checked by a professional, and if necessary replaced immediately.
With ever increasing coverage in the news and discussion online, autonomous driving is one of the hot topics in motoring today. Quite how soon – and to what extent – autonomous systems will ultimately play in all of our lives remains to be seen, but as the world’s leading developer and manufacture of electronic automotive safety technologies you can be sure Continental will be at the heart of this social change.
In fact it’s already begun. Continental have been providing automotive manufacturers, such as Mercedes-Benz, with electronic automotive technologies for many years, and as participants of Vision Zero Live discovered not just for safety purposes but driver convenience too.
Technologies on view included the previously mentioned AEB and ESC systems, as well as the latest Continental electronic dashboards and consoles. These are now fitted as standard by many automotive manufacturers on a wide variety of vehicle types, as are the latest state-of-the-art vehicle sensor systems, all processed via sophisticated on-board computers, and our custom built audio visual systems.
Of particular fascination to participants at Vision Zero Live were the vehicle sensor systems. Many were already aware of (autonomous) self-parking technology, which is increasingly found on more and more cars, but most were unaware that Continental are a major provider of this technology to the automotive industry. The event provided the chance to experience self-parking first hand.
How does it work? A sophisticated array of on-board cameras and sensors create an continuously updating 360° virtual map of the vehicle in its surroundings. The system consists of four cameras and twelve infrared LIDAR sensors, all strategically positioned throughout the exterior of the vehicle.
The self-parking process comprises of four key steps: Start. Stop. Avoid. Turn. Until the driver is ready to start, nothing else can follow. And if the driver decides they want to stop proceedings, the autonomous technology immediately responds. The experience proved very popular, with drivers able to sit back and marvel at how smoothly and efficiently the technology successfully positioned the car into a confined parking space.
And just to reassure participants that the on-board sensors were continually active, obstacles – such as pedestrians suddenly walking into ‘view’ – were deliberately introduced to demonstrate how quickly and reliably the autonomous technology reacts, bringing the car to an immediate halt.
To emphasise the reliability of Continental’s self-parking technology further, participants were invited to try ‘blind parking’. As the experience suggests, this was done in a vehicle with all of the windows masked, effectively rendering the driver ‘blind’. This caused quite a stir with drivers and passengers alike, since none had had the opportunity to do this before. Their blind faith was rewarded, with the technology performing 100% successfully on every demonstration.
Remember, the driver is at the heart of the four pillars – Tyres, Automotive, Driver and Infrastructure – that are central to Continental’s quest to achieve zero fatalities, zero injuries and zero accidents. With this in mind, it is Continental’s intention to encourage as many drivers as possible to attend our Vision Zero Live events. The feedback from those who have already participated can be characterised in four simple words: “Everyone should try this”.
Why? Because once a participant has had the opportunity to experience first-hand the driver safety-led technology and tyre safety insights offered at the event, they’re better educated, making for a safer, more informed motorist.
If you’d like to participate in the next round of Vision Zero Live events, be sure to follow Continental on Facebook and Twitter for all our latest driver safety and technology updates and news. You can learn more about Continental’s Vision Zero World campaign at www.continental-tyres.co.uk/car/media-services/vision-zero.