Europe is planning tough new safety requirements for new cars, including making Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) mandatory. And the pressure is now on the UK to follow suit.

The European Commission last week proposed that within three years all new car models introduced on the market must have 11 advanced safety features. Alongside AEB - which monitors the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brakes the car if the driver fails to respond to an emergency situation - these include built-in breathalysers and pedestrian and cyclist detection systems for trucks.

Fewer crashes

The commission also outlined a target to reduce deaths and serious injuries on EU roads by 50% between 2020 and 2030.

Thatcham Research described the measures as some of the most significant in the past decade. The vehicle safety technology research organisation wants AEB to be standard in the UK, as it says cars with the technology have a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes. It calculates that the AEB has the potential to save 1,100 lives and more than 120,000 casualties over the next 10 years.

Matthew Avery, director of research at Thatcham Research, said: “Just as seatbelts are a legal requirement on all cars and vans, AEB should be as well. We have campaigned for many years for it to be standard on all vehicles, and with the latest AEB systems now capable of identifying pedestrians and cyclists, there is an opportunity for the UK Government to address the growing number of cyclist and pedestrian fatalities.”

Low cost, big result

Road safety charity Brake was also behind the new European rules. Brake says that every day, five people in the UK are killed and more than 65 seriously injured in road crashes.

The Parliamentary Advisory Council for Transport Safety (PACTS), a cross-party group of MPs and Lords, added that the cost to motorists and businesses of introducing these measures in the UK would be small as many modern vehicles are already fitted with these safety features.

The 11 safety systems the European Commission wants as mandatory from 2021 are:

  • Autonomous emergency braking (AEB): monitors the traffic conditions ahead and automatically brakes the car if the driver fails to respond to an emergency situation
  • Alcohol interlock: requires the driver to blow into an in-car breathalyser before starting the ignition
  • Drowsiness and attention detection: detects when drivers start to become drowsy and prompts them to take a break
  • Event (accident) data recorder: records vehicle and occupant details over a period of time
  • Emergency stop signal: alerts following motorists to any potential hazard
  • Full-width frontal occupant protection crash tests, and improved seatbelts
  • Head impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclists, as well as safety glass in case of a crash
  • Intelligent speed assistance: alerts drivers when they exceed the speed limit
  • Lane keeping assist: warns the driver and helps keep the car in its lane
  • Pole side impact occupant protection: to protect people if a vehicle travels sideways into an object such as a trees or pole
  • Reversing camera or detection system: to alert drivers of objects behind their car
Read more about road safety at Solved.