24 May, 2018

European road safety plans require more active systems in new models

As part of a package of measures aimed to make roads safer, the European Commission has suggested a number of systems which manufacturers should consider adding to new models as standard.

While road fatalities have more than halved since 2001, 25,300 people still lost their lives on EU roads in 2017, and another 135,000 were seriously injured. The Commission is therefore taking measures with strong EU added-value to contribute to safe roads and the protection of those using them.

The Commission is proposing that within three years, all new vehicle models introduced on the market must have 11 advanced safety features which can help prevent accidents from occurring. These technologies include advanced emergency braking, lane-keeping assist systems for cars and pedestrian and cyclist detection systems for trucks. There are also a number of other safety items included in the plans, such as drowsiness and attention detection systems and alcohol-interlock installations. In addition, the Commission is helping Member States to systematically identify dangerous road sections and to better target investment.

The Commission believes that these two measures could save up to 10,500 lives and avoid close to 60,000 serious injuries between 2020 and 2030, thereby contributing to the EU's long-term goal of moving closer to zero fatalities and serious injuries by 2050.

Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs, Elżbieta Bieńkowska said: "90% 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."

The European Automobile Manufacturers’ Association (ACEA) welcomed the proposal while stressing that some proposed measures will require further review to ensure a focus on the most effective solutions with the strongest positive outcome.

“ACEA members acknowledge the importance of including additional safety features in new car types,” stated ACEA Secretary General, Erik Jonnaert.

At the same time, ACEA calls for synergies to be factored in to avoid solving the same problem twice. For instance, driver distraction accidents will already be reduced through autonomous emergency braking and lane departure warnings as well as lane-keeping assist systems (LKAS). Autonomous emergency braking will also prevent or reduce the severity of frontal and side crashes.

While recognising the need to address accidents caused by excessive speed, ACEA recommends a step-wise approach for introducing intelligent speed assistance (ISA) systems in cars. This should include developing and implementing effective solutions for providing reliable information to the vehicle, based on, for example, short-range communications.

“Vehicle technology is just one piece of the complex safety puzzle,” said Mr Jonnaert. “If we are to make progress on the Commission’s new objective of reducing fatalities and serious injuries by half between 2020 and 2030, we need put more emphasis on an integrated road safety strategy. This is the only way to ensure that safe vehicles are driven by safe drivers on safe roads.”