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European Council agrees to tougher rules on vehicle safety with call for new features

European Council agrees to tougher rules on vehicle safety with call for new features

The European Union is to introduce legislation which will require a range of new safety features to be mandatory on vehicles with the aim of saving lives on Europe’s roads.

And, whatever the outcome of the UK’s Brexit negotiations, safety campaigners have called on the UK government to back the measure.

The European Council agreed its position on the new rules which means that negotiations can begin with the European Parliament as soon as it has adopted its position.

The advanced safety measures, which will be required for passenger cars and light commercials, include the mandatory fitment of advanced driver assistance systems including Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) and Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA), in all new cars, as well as the introduction of further safety measures including safer car and lorry fronts.

Event data recorders, which store information such as the vehicle’s speed or the state of activation of the safety systems before, during and after a collision, and enlarged head impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users such as pedestrians and cyclists will also have to be fitted. Specific safety rules will also apply to trucks, buses, hydrogen-powered vehicles and automated vehicles.

Additionally, under the proposed regulation, vans and Sport Utility Vehicles (SUVs) will no longer be exempt from various safety features which until now have only been required for ordinary passenger cars. Those features include tyre pressure monitoring, intelligent speed assistance, alcohol interlock, driver drowsiness monitoring and emergency stop signals.

Introduced in full, it has been evaluated that this package of measures could save 25,000 lives across the European Union over the next 16 years.

Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for road safety charity Brake, said: “This is a momentous day for road safety in Europe, with support given to measures which could prevent 25,000 lives being lost on the road over the next 16 years. Member states have played their part, backing the mandatory fitting of vehicle technologies which will make roads safer for everyone for generations to come. Now it’s the European Parliament’s turn to step up and make this vision a reality.

“Road safety has stagnated in the UK in recent years, but the rollout of lifesaving vehicle technologies, such as AEB and ISA, can deliver the next-step change in safety improvement. The UK government must seize this opportunity and continue its support of these vital measures, regardless of the Brexit outcome.

“There is huge public backing for action to improve the safety of vehicles, with 9 in 10 drivers in a Brake and Direct Line survey agreeing that all new cars should be fitted with the latest lifesaving safety features as standard. With the potential for 25,000 lives to be saved over the next 16 years, it is imperative that both the EU and UK support these measures and help make our roads safer for all.”

The draft regulation updates existing rules on car safety contained in the General Safety Regulation (EC) 661/2009, the Pedestrian Safety Regulation (EC) 78/2009 and the Hydrogen Safety Regulation (EC) 79/2009. The European Commission will be able to update the technical specifications through delegated acts to take account of future technical developments.

Once the European Parliament has adopted its own position at first reading, the European Council will start negotiations with the Parliament with the aim of reaching rapid agreement.