Automatic emergency braking systems set to become mandatory in EU

by James Attwood, Autocar UK 22 Feb 2019

Automatic emergency braking (AEB) and lane departure warning systems are among a number of safety systems set to be made compulsory on new vehicles sold in the European Union (EU).

The legislation proposed last year that would require several advanced safety features to be fitted as standard has been approved by Internal Market Committee MEPs and will now go forward for approval from the full European Parliament. 

The vote is expected to take place next month, and if that happens, the rules could come into place by 2022.

The European Transport Safety Council estimates that fitting all new cars with such systems could save 25,000 lives in 15 years.

The safety features that will become mandatory in passenger cars are:

- Advanced automatic emergency braking systems

- Lane departure warning systems

- Intelligent speed assistance

- Alcohol interlock installation facilitation

- Driver drowsiness and attention warning

- Advanced driver distraction warning

- Emergency stop signal

- Reversing detection

- Accident data recorder

Several of the systems, including AEB, are already widely available and standard on many models, in part because they are now required for a car to score the maximum five stars in the Euro NCAP safety tests.

Under the new rules, manufacturers will have to ensure the systems are developed in a way that ensures "users accept them". The laws also include requirements designed to protect vehicles from cyber attacks. Most of the systems will also be made compulsory for light commercial vehicles and buses.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said the vote result is "great news for road safety".

He added: "It's encouraging that a lot of the safety technologies proposed are already fitted as standard on many new cars. In fact, it's not now impossible to get a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating without AEB fitted as standard.

"We would hope the proposed timeline of within three years could be more ambitious."

Avery also cited the value of intelligent speed assistance systems but added that he feels it's important the EU has ruled such systems must be overridable, saying: "Drivers like the vehicle to know what the set limit is but also like to have ultimate control of their vehicle's speed".

With the UK due to leave the EU at the end of March, the new rules won't necessarily apply to cars sold here, but the Government is likely to ensure that car safety and type approval laws are closely matched to those in Europe.

Avery said it's "vital" that the standards are recognised in the UK post-Brexit, "unless the UK would be happy to accept lower safety standards than were in operation across the EU".

Also read: StopTheCrash campaign launched in India, pedestrian safety feature in cars kicks in from October, AEB and ESC by 2022

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