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European Commission Calls for Mandatory Safety Features in New Cars

The European Commission has published the third element of its ‘Europe on the Move’ strategy, in which it calls for the mandatory installation of a range of safety features on new cars sold in Europe, reports the RAC Foundation

In addition to new vehicle safety standards the publication includes three other road safety related measures: an overall outline of the road safety strategy for the decade to 2030; updated rules on road infrastructure safety management and a strategy for automated driving.

Road Traffic Accident Casualty Figures

More action on improving road safety is greatly needed. According to analysis carried out for the European Commission by TRL, the UK transport research laboratory, the proposed vehicle safety measures could prevent 24,794 deaths across all vehicle categories between 2022 and 2037.

Additional figures show that 25,300 people died in 2017 on EU roads, a figure that has hardly budged in four years. A further 135,000 were seriously injured.

The Commission is also calling for member states to identify dangerous road sections and “to better target investment”. The ultimate goal is to move close to zero fatalities and serious injuries on the roads by 2050; the so-called Vision Zero.

Standard Safety Features

In addition to systems such as autonomous emergency braking (AEB), lane assist and intelligent speed adaptation (ISA), other features that Commission would like to see fitted as standard include:

  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Drowsiness and attention detection (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Distraction recognition / prevention (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Event (accident) data recorder (cars and vans)
  • Emergency stop signal (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Full-width frontal occupant protection crash test – improved seatbelts (cars and vans)
  • Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists – safety glass in case of crash (cars and vans)
  • Lane keeping assist (cars, vans)
  • Pole side impact occupant protection (cars, vans)
  • Reversing camera or detection system (cars, vans, trucks, buses)
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system (vans, trucks, buses)
  • Vulnerable road user detection and warning on front and side of vehicle (trucks and buses)
  • Vulnerable road user improved direct vision from driver’s position (trucks and buses)

Currently AEB is only fitted as standard on around 30% of all new cars sold and is available as an optional extra on another 30%, though only a small fraction of consumers actually opt for it.

Warm Welcome for the Proposals

The proposals have been welcomed by road safety organisations across Europe, including the European Transport Safety Council (ETSC).

“Taken together, today’s announcements could represent the biggest step forward in road safety in Europe since the introduction of the seat belt,” commented Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC. “Road traffic injury is still the number one killer of young people across the continent so these essential measures cannot come soon enough.”

“Today’s announcements alone will not make the difference; it is absolutely crucial that EU Member States and the European Parliament give their backing to the plans and that they do not give in to pressure from car manufacturers, who are already attempting to weaken parts of the vehicle safety proposal,” he added.

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