11 car safety systems to become mandatory by 2021 17 May, 2018 12:55pm Hugo Griffiths

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EU Commission says autonomous emergency braking, lane-keep assistance and fatigue detection must feature on all new cars in three years

The European Commission has announced a fresh set of safety rules forcing all new cars to feature autonomous emergency braking, lane keeping assistance, reversing cameras, driver fatigue detection by 2021.

A total of 11 systems will become mandatory for new cars introduced to the market by that date, saving an estimated 7,300 lives and preventing 38,900 serious injuries between 2020 and 2030.

• Safest cars on sale in the UK

Autonomous emergency braking (AEB) has long been expected to become mandatory on new cars. The system – which automatically applies a car’s brakes if a driver fails to slow for an obstacle – is thought to reduce rear-end collisions by 38 per cent. Reversing cameras, meanwhile, recently became mandatory on new cars sold in America, and are predicted to save 95 US lives a year.

All new cars brought to the EU market from 2021 must also feature ‘over-ridable intelligent speed assistance’. This will entail traffic sign recognition cameras working in harmony with a car’s speed limiter, automatically setting a car's upper speed based on prevailing limits.

Credit: European Commission

New cars will also have to be fitted with accident data recorders by 2021, logging telematics information following any collision. Pre-wiring for alcohol interlocks will also be required, allowing problem drink-drivers to easily have an interlock device fitted. This would prevent a car being started without a 'clean' sample of breath being provided.

Emergency stop signalling – which flashes the hazard or brake lights when a car brakes heavily – will also become mandatory, as will improved seatbelts, side-impact protection systems and pedestrian impacts zones.

The 11 systems becoming mandatory in 2021:

  1. Advanced emergency braking
  2. Alcohol interlock installation facilitation
  3. Drowsiness and attention detection
  4. Event (accident) data recorder
  5. Emergency stop signal
  6. Full-width frontal occupant protection crash test – improved seatbelts
  7. Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists – safety glass in case of crash
  8. Intelligent speed assistance
  9. Lane keeping assist
  10. Pole side impact occupant protection
  11. Reversing camera or detection system

New vans brought to market by 2021 will have to come with all these systems, except for advanced emergency braking.

European lawmakers have been key to improving road safety over recent years, mandating the fitment of electronic stability control and Isofix child seat mounts to all new cars certified since 2011. Anti-lock brakes, meanwhile, have been fitted to all cars sold in the EU since 2004.

Traffic fatalities across the EU fell by 43 per cent between 2005 and 2015, but safety chiefs are concerned that the decline has slowed since 2014, with 25,300 people dying on EU roads last year. The new safety systems are being made mandatory in order to help achieve the EU’s Vision Zero project, which aims to move “close to zero fatalities and serious injuries [on the road] by 2050”. An interim target of a 50 per cent reduction is in place for 2030.

While consumers may well be concerned that the addition of more mandatory safety systems will push up the price of cars, the European Commission says its analysis shows it will “have little or no impact on the price of new vehicles.” It has set aside €450 million (£393 million approx) to EU member states “contributing to road safety, digitisation and multimodality [transport logistics]”.

Other systems set to be introduced over coming years include pedestrian and cyclist detection for lorries, while the Commission will help EU member states “systematically identify dangerous road sections” in order to “better target investment.”

• Road deaths rise puts UK behind most European countries

Announcing the new safety measures, the European Commission’s head of markets, 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 Commission says a further four mandatory safety systems will follow “a few years later”. While these have not been specified, calls have recently been made for the fitment of alcohol interlocks, and the mandatory inclusion of pre-wiring for such devices by 2021 is a step towards this measure.

The proposals have been welcomed by the UK’s Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS). The PACTS executive director, David Davies, says the council “urges the Government to get behind the Commission’s proposals and ensure that they are adopted without delay”. Davies added adopting the new rules would be a “free lunch” for Government, as they would “not require Government spending”.

Click here for a list of the safest cars on sale in the UK…

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