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More car safety features set to be fitted as standard

Date: 30 May 2018   |   Author: Sean Keywood

Safety systems such as autonomous emergency braking are set to become mandatory on all new cars as the European Commission tries to cut road deaths. Sean Keywood reports.

raft of safety features are set to become mandatory on new cars in the EU, under proposals from the European Commission.

The plan is that, within three years, all new models introduced on the market must have 11 advanced safety features fitted.

In addition to changes to crash test legislation, the Commission expects the changes to save 7,300 lives and prevent 38,900 serious injuries between 2020 and 2030. 

It has set an interim target of a 50% reduction in deaths and serious injuries during that period, with its long-term goal to reduce both figures to zero by 2050. 

The included safety features are:

  • autonomous emergency braking (AEB)
  • alcohol interlock installation facilitation 
  • drowsiness and attention detection 
  • event (accident) data recorder 
  • emergency stop signal 
  • full-width frontal occupant protection crash test-improved seatbelts 
  • head-impact zone enlargement for pedestrians and cyclist-safety glass in case of crash 
  • intelligent speed assistance 
  • lane-keeping assist 
  • pole side-impact occupant protection 
  • reversing camera or detection system.

Also included in the proposal is advanced distraction recognition and an extension of AEB to include the ability to detect vulnerable road users, both of which will come into force after five years.

The Commission says these safety features offer significant potential to compensate for human errors, a major factor in most road accidents.

It says that, according to its analysis, the proposals would have little or no impact on the price of new vehicles.

The proposals have been welcomed by road safety campaigners. Joshua Harris, director of campaigns for the road safety charity Brake, was among them. He said, "This proposal is hugely significant, marking the next chapter in European road safety and putting us back on the path to 'vision zero' - a world with zero road deaths and serious injuries.

"Every day, five people in the UK are killed and more than 65 seriously injured in road crashes, causing untold devastation to families across the country. 

"These proposals will get the latest life-saving vehicle technologies on our roads, a move long called for by Brake, preventing crashes and helping reduce their impact. 

"It is now up to the UK Government, and others across the EU, to ensure this proposal becomes law and they must deliver."

The Commission's announcement has also been welcomed by motor industry body Thatcham Research, which has urged the UK Government not to stand in the way of the proposal's implementation, with particular regard to its inclusion of mandatory AEB.

Thatcham has been campaigning for AEB to be made standard in cars for the past five years, citing research that states cars fitted with the system have a 38% reduction in real-world rear-end crashes.

Thatcham director of research Matthew Avery 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.

"We would hope that no blockers are put in the way, by carmakers or parliamentarians, around making these technologies mandatory on all UK cars and vans as soon as possible."

Thatcham says AEB has the potential to save 1,100 lives and more than 120,000 casualties over the next ten years.

It says the inclusion of AEB in Euro NCAP crash tests has helped drive adoption, with 54% of cars tested in 2017 having it fitted as standard.

However, in the UK only 30% of cars on sale have AEB as standard, as it is mostly offered as an optional extra.

According to Thatcham, of the top ten bestselling UK car brands in 2017, only Land Rover had the feature fitted across its entire model range.