Technology central to new EU safer car laws

Out-Law News | 12 Nov 2019 | 9:45 am | 1 min. read

Car manufacturers will be obliged to ensure new vehicles they introduce from mid-2022 are fitted with a range of new safety-related technology under EU laws that have been finalised.

Technology to be fitted includes intelligent speed assistance systems; driver drowsiness and attention warning systems, and advanced driver distraction warnings.

It is envisaged that those systems will between them help drivers better regulate their speed to account for driving conditions, asset the drivers' alertness through "vehicle systems analysis" and warn them if necessary, and help drivers to "pay attention to the traffic situation".

Cars and vans will also need to be fitted with other sophisticated safety-related technology, including advanced emergency braking systems. Those systems will need to initially enable "the detection of obstacles and moving vehicles ahead" and then be subsequently capable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists too. These vehicles will also need to be fitted with "an emergency lane-keeping system" too.

Many other vehicles will also need to be equipped with an "emergency lane-keeping system" to help drivers maintain "a safe position of the vehicle with respect to the lane or road boundary, at least when a lane departure occurs or is about to occur and a collision might be imminent".

Manufacturing expert Nicole Livesey of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law, said: "This legislation is a prime example of how autonomous functionality within the vehicle is becoming normalised and a requirement rather than a 'nice to have', reinforcing the fact that all participants in the market need to understand the legal dynamics around such features."

The new regulations provide scope to the European Commission to add further safety-related requirements as technology develops over time, and it makes particular provision for it to do so in the area of automated vehicles. In this respect, technical specifications relating to signalling, steering, accelerating and braking, real-time environment monitoring, and data exchange for the purposes of enabling vehicle platooning could all be fleshed out in future.

The new general safety regulation was approved by representatives of the governments of EU member states late last week at a meeting of the Council of Ministers. It will come into force 20 days after it is published in the Official Journal of the EU and begin to apply 30 months later.

Finland led the final negotiations on the new regulation for the Council of Ministers. Finnish minister for employment Timo Harakka said: "These new rules will help us to reduce significantly the number of fatalities and severe injuries on EU roads. They also enhance the European car manufacturers’ competitiveness in the global market."