In Mobility Package 3, the European Commission has included two key initiatives on road safety, a topic that remains a high priority for the road freight and passenger transport sectors. These are:
- The Strategic Action Plan on Road Safety setting out new safety measures.
- A proposed revision of the EU General Safety Regulation on type-approval requirements for motor vehicles and their trailers. The amendment is designed to improve vehicle and vulnerable road user safety. It provides for new rules in the areas of cabin design, advanced systems, platooning, and improved bus and coach accessibility for mobility impaired passengers.
IRU welcomes the proposals and supports any measure aimed at increasing road safety. Every accident is one too many. The safety record of commercial vehicles has improved considerably in the last decade. Further progress must come from the right mix of technology and human- and infrastructure-related measures.
The European Commission has devised new rules for cabin design to enhance the visibility of vulnerable road users from the driver’s seat.
IRU supports such efforts for new vehicles but calls on the European Commission to take account of the aerodynamics and fuel efficiency features of vehicles engaged in long-distance operations when launching any new initiatives in that regard.
Advanced systems to better detect vulnerable users
IRU welcomes the European Commission’s commitment to extending the scope of active vehicle safety technology deployment to include several categories of heavy-duty vehicles, with a view to ensuring better visibility of vulnerable road users.
IRU recommends that further deployment of active vehicle safety technology should remain cost effective and be accompanied by financial support measures. During the transition period preceding the introduction of new vehicle designs, operators should not be discouraged to enter cities or deliver their services.
Training for drivers on how to use the new technology will be essential. IRU also encourages the European Commission and Member States to cooperate closely with the road transport sector in order to raise the awareness of car and other road users on how best to interact with buses, coaches and trucks.
Bus and coach accessibility for mobility impaired people
IRU supports the European Commission’s initiatives to improve the accessibility of M2 and M3 Class 1 buses for mobility impaired people.
As similar legislation already exists at the United Nations level, EU rules must seek conformity and avoid duplication in order to provide a clear legislative framework for the passenger carrier industry.
Truck platooning is the linking of two or more digitally connected vehicles equipped with automated driver assistance and steering systems. These convoys maintain a close distance between each vehicle.
The European Commission plans to adopt delegated acts aimed at harmonising the exchange of data for the purposes of multi-brand vehicle platooning.
Truck platooning represents a step towards the deployment of automated and ultimately fully autonomous vehicles. A number of aspects require careful consideration in order to guarantee successful platooning operations. Regulations to operate autonomous vehicles must be harmonised and interoperable on international, regional and national levels. Technology must be proven and solid to ensure that it functions effectively in various climates and traffic conditions.
In the EU, 90% of road accidents are the result of human error. Connected and automated vehicles have the potential to greatly reduce that percentage, and consequently the overall number of road fatalities.
To promote a shift in that direction, the European Commission plans to implement delegated acts relieving the driver from specific driving tasks. These acts will provide for systems to alleviate the driver’s control of the vehicle such as: real-time information on the state of the vehicle and the surrounding environment, driver readiness monitoring systems, event data recorders, and harmonised formats for the exchange of data.
While IRU fully embraces innovation – and is in favour of a transition that allows for the safe, secure and sustainable operation of autonomous vehicles – it underscores the need for harmonised and interoperable technical standards on operating automated vehicles. Cybersecurity and ethical questions must also be addressed before such vehicles are allowed to circulate freely.