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New vehicle safety systems

Source: Adobe Stock / Akarat Phasura

On 5 January 2020, Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 on type-approval requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers, and systems, components and separate technical units intended for such vehicles, as regards their general safety and the protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users (General Safety Regulation - GSR) entered into force. On 6 July 2022, the Regulation will become mandatory in all EU Member States.

One of the major objectives of this Regulation is to further reduce the number of persons killed and injured by making it mandatory to fit vehicle safety systems. This Regulation makes it mandatory to introduce a range of new technologies and safety measures following a fixed timetable (stages A-D). The necessary detailed technical requirements for individual safety measures are currently being developed at EU and UNECE levels; some of them are already in force.

Time stageABCD
All new vehicle types-6 July 20227 July 20247 January 2026
All vehicles registered for the first time6 July 20227 July 20247 July 20267 January 2029

The Federal Ministry for Digital and Transport (BMDV) welcomes the measures included in the Regulation to increase road safety. The Ministry has strongly lobbied the EU for the Regulation to be applied much earlier and regrets that this initiative did not obtain the required majority. From a Ministry perspective, making turn assist systems mandatory earlier could have made a major contribution towards reducing the number of fatal accidents involving vulnerable road users – in particular pedal cyclists and pedestrians.

Examples of new safety measures:

For several years now, it has been mandatory for certain goods vehicles, buses and coaches to be fitted with advanced emergency braking systems In the future, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will also have to be equipped with advanced emergency braking systems. In the first phase (time stage B), the systems will have to be able to brake automatically and independently at least when they detect a potential forward collision with a stationary or moving vehicle. In the second phase (time stage C), these systems will also detect pedestrians and pedal cyclists and independently activate the braking system.

Passenger cars and light commercial vehicles are to be fitted with systems that assist the driver in keeping a safe position of the vehicle with respect to the lane or road boundary. The systems warn the driver when a lane departure is about to occur and intervene if a lane departure does occur (time stage B or time stage C for motor vehicles with hydraulic power assisted steering).

The Regulation states that all motor vehicles are to be equipped with a system to aid the driver in complying with the statutory speed limit (time stage B). This involves making the driver aware, through dedicated, appropriate and effective feedback, that the applicable speed limit has been exceeded. The system can be overridden by the driver at any time. The systems already available as an optional extra on many vehicle models (primarily passenger cars) are mostly based on the recognition of speed limits by combining camera systems (sign recognition) with navigation maps (GPS). The exact requirements to be met by the planned system functions are currently being developed at EU level and are therefore not available yet.

All motor vehicles are to be equipped with systems that help the driver to continue to pay attention to the traffic situation and that warn the driver when he or she is distracted (time stage B).

To avoid collisions when reversing, all motor vehicles are to be equipped with a reversing detection system (time stage B). The purpose of the reversing detection system is to make the driver aware of people and objects at the rear of the vehicle.

Buses, coaches and heavy-duty vehicles are to be equipped with advanced systems that are capable of detecting pedestrians and pedal cyclists in close proximity to the front or nearside of the vehicle and of providing a warning or avoiding collision with such vulnerable road users (time stage B). In addition to the collision avoidance system for pedestrians and pedal cyclists, another requirement that should be highlighted is the mandatory fitting of turn assist systems, which was included in the Regulation following an initiative taken by the Ministry. The new UN Regulation No. 151, which is based on a proposal made by the Ministry, harmonized for the first time technical requirements to be met by turn assist systems (referred to as “blind spot information systems” in the Regulation).

In the future, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles (time stage B) plus buses, coaches and heavy-duty vehicles (time stage D) will have to be fitted with an event data recorder. In the event of an accident, this recorder will capture anonymized vehicle driving data in conformity with the EU data protection provisions. The findings derived from the data will make it possible to conduct detailed accident research and evolve automotive engineering requirements in a targeted manner.

Passenger cars, buses, coaches and commercial vehicles will have to be equipped with an emergency stop signal (time stage B). This is a light-signalling function to indicate to other road users to the rear of the vehicle that a high retardation force is being applied to the vehicle relative to the prevailing road conditions. The terms “emergency stop signal” and “emergency stop light” are often used for the same function. The signal is given by the simultaneous operation of all the stop or direction indicator lamps fitted to the vehicle. The emergency stop signal is automatically activated if the vehicle speed is above 50 km/h and the vehicle decelerates very rapidly or the anti-lock braking system (ABS) is activated. The emergency stop signal goes out after the very rapid deceleration or after the ABS has been deactivated.

In the future, all trailers with a maximum authorized mass of more than 3.5 tonnes as well as all commercial vehicles, buses and coaches will have to be equipped with an accurate tyre pressure monitoring system (time stage B). The purpose of these systems is to warn the driver when a loss of pressure occurs in a tyre. So far, it has only been mandatory to fit passenger cars with these systems.

In the future, passenger cars and light commercial vehicles will have to be designed and constructed to provide for an enlarged head impact protection zone with the aim of enhancing the protection of road users (for instance pedestrians, pedal cyclists and motorcyclists) and mitigating their potential injuries in the event of a collision (time stage C).

Requirements will be introduced to improve the direct vision of drivers of buses, coaches and heavy-duty vehicles (time stage D) to enhance the direct visibility of vulnerable road users from the driver’s seat. The requirements are designed to reduce to the greatest possible extent the blind spots in front and to the side of the vehicle and reduce accidents involving vulnerable road users.