Safer roads: new EU measures to reduce car accidents

MEPs vote on new measures to improve road safety and reduce accidents on 16 April. 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. Road fatalities in the EU have more than halved in the last two decades, but 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.
The new rules would make advanced safety equipment mandatory in all new road vehicles sold on the EU market. They are likely to apply as from May 2022 for new models and from May 2024 for existing models.

The rules also aim 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 cyclists and pedestrians on EU roads.

Polish EPP member Róża Thun, the member responsible for steering these new rules through Parliament, said: “Intelligent Speed Assistance will provide a driver with feedback, based on maps and road sign observation, whenever the speed limit is exceeded.

"We do not introduce a speed limiter, but an intelligent system that will make drivers fully aware when they're speeding. This will not only make all of us safer, but also help drivers to avoid speeding tickets."

What would change?

All new vehicles will have to include about 30 life-saving technologies. Among them:

  • Intelligent speed assistance to make a driver aware when exceeding the speed limit
  • Driver drowsiness and attention warning
  • Advanced driver distraction warning to help keep attention on the traffic situation
  • Emergency stop signal in the form of a light, signalling 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 allowing aftermarket alcohol interlock devices to be fitted
  • Event data recorder to register relevant data shortly before, during, and immediately after a road accident

For passenger cars and light commercial vehicles, it would also be mandatory to have an emergency-braking system - already compulsory for lorries and buses - as well as an emergency lane-keeping system.

Trucks and buses would be required to include direct vision features, allowing the driver to see vulnerable road users, and alert systems detecting the presence of cyclists and pedestrians in the immediate vicinity of the vehicle.

Compulsory safety features could drastically reduce the number of road fatalities, given that human error is involved in about 95% of all road traffic accidents.

Next steps

Once adopted by Parliament, the rules will have to approved by the Council before they can enter into force.