All new cars will be packed with significantly more life-saving safety equipment than ever before within three years – if Europe’s lawmakers get their own way.
The European Commission is pushing for the mandatory fitment of 11 pieces of technology designed to prevent or mitigate accidents – and save an estimated 7,300 lives in the next decade.
These include autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assistance and fatigue monitoring systems, all of which could feature on every new car from 2021 under proposals.
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS) said the new ruling would be a ‘free lunch’ for the UK Government, reducing road casualties and saving billions of pounds without requiring any investment.
As standard from 2021: The European Commission wants all car makers to fit 11 pieces of safety technology to all vehicles they sell in 3 years – including fatigue monitoring systems that alert drivers when they should take a break
The EU policymakers estimate that the addition of all 11 features will not just save over 7,000 lives across Europe but it wall also prevent 38,000 serious injuries between 2020 and 2030.
As part of the European Commission’s new initiative announced last week, lawmakers said they wanted revisions to the General Safety Regulation for vehicles to ‘ensure that all Europeans benefit from the latest developments in technology’.
The 11 systems to be mandatory by 2021
· Advanced emergency braking
· Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
· Drowsiness and attention detection
· Event (accident) data recorder
· Emergency stop signal
· Full-width frontal occupant protection crash test – improved seatbelts
· Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists – safety glass in case of crash
· Intelligent speed assistance
· Lane keeping assist
· Pole side impact occupant protection
· Reversing camera or detection system
The Commission said all the features offer significant potential to compensate for human error – a major factor in most road accidents – and will play a part in the gradual progression towards a road network predominantly made-up of automated vehicles.
The new proposals want it to be made mandatory for SUVs and vans to be crash tested in the same way as traditional motors following the increased uptake in these vehicles being used as passenger cars by customers.
While models will be packed with lots of extra kit, the Commission said it would have ‘little to no impact’ on the price of new vehicles.
In fact, it said the reduction in injuries caused by vehicle collisions would save the continent an estimated €73 billion.
Infrastructure measures will also be put in place to better protect vulnerable road users like cyclists and motorcyclists.
These are expected to save another 3,200 lives and reduce the injury toll by 20,700 cases between 2020 and 2030.
The 11 new safety features to be standardised
The European Commission estimates that the new features will save 7,300 lives and 38,000 serious injuries on European roads between 2020 and 2030
The least surprising of the 11 standardised safety features is autonomous emergency braking (AEB), which has long been expected to be made mandatory.
It functions by monitoring the road ahead and applying the brakes automatically if the driver fails to slow down in time, mainly at speeds of around 30mph or less.
Reversing cameras will also be made essential – following the same decision in the US – which is designed to save the lives of pedestrians unwittingly walking behind vehicles that are move backwards.
Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB) is one of the new features to be made mandatory. These systems apply the brakes when a crash is imminent
Other features include ‘over-rideable intelligent speed assistance’, which will combine traffic sign recognition and the car’s speed limiter to ensure a motorist can exceed the limits in certain zones.
A driver will be able to switch off this system if they desire, but it could be an advantageous feature when using the latest Smart motorways with variable speed limits.
Lane-keep assist, which warns drivers if they’re veering out of their lane on the motorway, will also be made a requirement for all cars rather than only being available on pricey versions, as is the current situation.
The EU also wants all cars to have ‘black box’ accident recorders that log telematics that can be reviewed following a collision and wired-in alcohol interlocks that will require previously-banned drivers to provide a clean sample of breath before driving.
The European Commission also wants Lane Keep Assist to be required in all vehicles. This alerts a driver when they’re drifting out of a lane or about to pull into the path of another motor that’s overtaking – or undertaking – them
All cars in 2021 might also need to have a reversing camera. This has become law in the US recently
Emergency stop signalling – which flashes the hazard or brake lights when the driver slams the brakes on – are also set to be standardised along with a range of crash-protection updates including better seatbelts, more side-impact barriers and improvements to pedestrian impact zones on vehicles.
Announcing the new safety measures, the European Commission’s head of markets, Elżbieta Bieńkowska, said: ’90 per cent of road accidents are due to human error.
‘The new mandatory safety features we propose today will reduce the number of accidents and pave the way for a driverless future of connected and automated driving.’
Proposals will be a ‘free lunch’ and cost the UK Government nothing
The latest DfT stats show that there has been a significant decline in deaths on British roads in the last decade, though not so much so in the last five years
The latest 2016 figures show that pedestrian fatalities rose the most, up 10% on the year before
The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety has since called on the UK Government to show support for the EU Commission’s proposals to improve road safety, despite Britain being one of the safest countries in terms of road casualties.
This is a free-lunch for the Government. These proposals will not require government spending
David Davies, PACTS executive director, said: ‘EU vehicle safety regulations have not been updated since 2009. This is an opportunity to ensure that modern safety features are fitted as standard, not as options.
‘Over the years, the UK has been at the forefront of developing safer cars and higher standards in Europe. PACTS urges the Government to get behind the Commission’s proposals and ensure that they are adopted without delay.’
Davies said the changes would be a ‘free lunch for the Government’ as it won’t require any spending on their part, and could help push down the number of road casualties in the country after years of plateauing figures.
He added: ‘It will be excellent value for money as road collisions and casualties have huge social costs – £36 billion in 2016 for the UK.
‘Road deaths and serious injuries in Europe and in the UK have declined little since 2010. This could bring casualty numbers down substantially.’
Latest road casualty stats for 2016 released by the Department for Transport showed that deaths were higher than they had been for five years.
There were 1,792 reported casualties on the road last year – up four per cent on 2015 numbers and the highest toll for half a decade.
Pedestrian fatalities saw the biggest rise – up 10 per cent.
Deaths on Britain’s roads are much lower than they were just over a decade ago – and are among the lowest in Europe.
However, AA president Edmund King said it averaged five deaths on British roads per day – something he dubbed ‘totally unacceptable’ – while the RAC said ‘more could, and should, be done to save lives’.
SAVE MONEY ON MOTORING