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New EU rules to improve road safety and enable fully driverless vehicles in the EU

This article was originally published here.

As of 6 July, a new set of European rules entered into force, requiring new vehicles to be equipped with a range of mandatory advanced driver assist systems to improve road safety. The new safety measures will help to better protect passengers, pedestrians and cyclists across the EU, expectedly saving over 25,000 lives and avoid at least 140,000 serious injuries by 2038. In addition, the new rules set the legal framework to enable fully driverless vehicles in the EU.

The new rules are part of the new Vehicle General Safety Regulation. The rules are responding to a need for improving vehicle and road safety, as well as a need to establish a comprehensive assessment of safety and maturity of the fully automated vehicles before they are placed on the EU market.

As of 6 July all new types of cars, vans, trucks and buses are to be equipped with a range of advanced driver assistance systems, sometimes referred to as ADAS. These safety systems include intelligent speed assistance, reversing detection with camera or sensors, attention warning in case of driver drowsiness or distraction, event data recorders as well as an emergency stop signal. In addition, cars and vans also need to be equipped with lane keeping systems and automated braking, whereas buses and trucks are to be equipped with technologies for better recognising possible blind spots, warnings to prevent collisions with pedestrians or cyclists and tyre pressure monitoring systems.

While currently only new vehicle types need to apply to the new rules, in two years, all new vehicles are to comply.

Commissioner Thierry Breton, responsible for the Internal Market, stated: “Speed assistance, lane keeping and automated braking systems – our vehicles are increasingly automated. With the new vehicle safety legislation [..], Europe is making sure that this technology improves our citizens’ daily life, and that the automotive industry has a predictable and safe framework to continue rolling out innovative technology solutions and maintain its global competitiveness.”

With the predictable framework to continue rolling out innovative technology solutions, the Commissioner was also referring to the fact that the General Safety Regulation empowers the Commission to complete the legal framework for automated and connected vehicles. The Commission expects to adopt technical rules for automated and connected vehicles this summer. These rules focus on automated vehicles replacing the driver on motorways (level 3 automation) and fully driverless vehicles like urban shuttles or robotaxis (level 4 automation).

The new rules will align EU legislation with the new UN level rules on level 3 automation and adopt new EU technical legislation for fully driverless vehicles, the first international rules of its kind. The Commission expects the rules will help to increase public trust, boost innovation and improve the competitiveness of Europe’s car industry.

More information: European Commission press release.

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