European Parliament wants safer roads: New EU measures to reduce car accidents

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The European Parliament is backing new measures to improve road safety and reduce road accidents. The rules would make a number of safety features compulsory in new cars.

EU roads are the safest in the world with an average of 49 road fatalities per million inhabitants, against 174 deaths per million globally. Although road fatalities in the EU have more than halved in the last two decades, the latest figures show that the decline in the fatality rate is stagnating and that further efforts are needed to improve road safety and save lives, a release posted on the European Parliament’s website reads.

During the plenary session on 11-14 March, Parliament greenlighted new rules to make advanced safety equipment mandatory in all new road vehicles sold on the EU market. The proposal also aims to adapt existing legislation to take into account technological developments and social trends such as an aging population, new causes of distraction for drivers (especially the use of electronic devices while driving) and the increasing number of bicycles and pedestrians on EU roads.

What the new rules would change

All new vehicles will have to include a number of life-saving technologies:

  • Intelligent speed assistance to alert a driver exceeding the speed limit by providing haptic feedback through the accelerator pedal
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning if alertness is insufficient
  • Distraction warning to alert the driver if the level of visual attention to the traffic situation is low
  • Emergency stop signal in the form of flashing lights to indicate to road users behind the vehicle that the driver is braking suddenly
  • Reversing detection system to avoid collisions with people and objects behind the vehicle with the help of a camera or a monitor
  • Tyre pressure monitoring system warning the driver when a loss of pressure occurs
  • Alcohol interlock installation facilitation to prevent driving with an excess of alcohol by requiring the driver to blow into an in-car breathalyser before starting the vehicle
  • Accident data recorder to register relevant data before, during, and after a road accident.

For passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, it would also be mandatory to have emergency-braking systems and lane-departure warning systems (both already compulsory for lorries). Trucks and buses would be required to include direct vision features, allowing the driver to see vulnerable road users from their seat without using mirrors or cameras, and alert systems detecting the presence of cyclists and pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.

Compulsory safety features should also help drivers to get used to autonomous technologies in vehicles and therefore increase public acceptance in the transition toward driverless cars.

The rules have to be negotiated with the European Council before they can enter into force, the release concludes.

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