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
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.