Revisions to the EU General Safety Regulation, which require a host of safety features to be included in all new vehicles, perhaps represents the biggest leap forward since the obligation to include seat belts. Based on proposals originally published in May of last year, the changes will require manufacturers to incorporate a total of 30 safety features on new vehicles.
In doing so, the EU aims to achieve a significant, long-term reduction in the 25,000-plus lives currently being lost every year on Europe’s roads. While clearly a worthwhile goal, it could pose serious challenges for OEMs. The good news is that virtually all the technologies involved are already proven in vehicles being driven today.
The revised General Safety Regulation is still subject to formal approval by the European Parliament and Council. But assuming it negotiates these final hurdles, a rigorous new regulatory framework will come into effect starting in 2022, one that puts the emphasis firmly on active safety. That’s a significant shift.
Over the past fifty years, passive safety features such as seat belts and crumple zones have succeeded in providing vehicle occupants with far better protection in the event of a crash. Now attention is turning to the use of technology that prevents accidents from occurring in the first place. Active safety systems are designed to either warn drivers of an imminent risk, or automatically take corrective action to minimize the danger of an accident. And the science behind this approach is compelling. Research indicates that more than 94% of all road traffic accidents are linked to human error. What’s more, just a half-second of additional warning would prevent 60% of accidents. The new EU requirement to fit vehicles with systems designed to assist and empower drivers is targeting action in just the right area
Notable 2022 requirements include an obligation for all new passenger vehicles supplied in Europe to be fitted with speed limiters. ‘Intelligent speed assistance’ must utilize traffic sign recognition to advise the driver of the relevant speed limit and, where necessary, automatically slow the vehicle (unless it is ‘overridden’). Other key requirements include fitting all light-duty passenger vehicles with detection systems for driver drowsiness and distraction, backup cameras or sensors, autonomous emergency braking (vehicle-to-vehicle), and collision data recorders. Trucks and buses must also have vulnerable road-user detection and alert systems on the front and side of the vehicle.
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