Vision Zero is an initiative, aiming to improve road traffic safety by eliminating fatalities and serious injuries which many countries and regulatory bodies such as the European Union (EU) work towards achieving. One of the latest steps taken to achieve this goal was the release of the new General Safety Regulation (GSR) for new vehicles introduced to the European market.
According to the European Commission, up to 50% of all accidents in Europe are fatigue or distraction related. With 11 new active safety additions, aimed to prevent the deterioration of the driver’s state and minimize the possibility of accidents, the European Commission estimates these new regulations to save more than 25,000 lives and prevent more than 140,000 serious injuries by 2038.
While the GSR outlines mandatory features that Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEM) need to comply with, another significant player in the automotive industry is the European New Car Assessment Programme (Euro NCAP). Euro NCAP is an organization conducting voluntary car safety performance assessments. Its safety ratings carry substantial significance in determining the success of vehicles in the market. This is largely because many consumers place the most value on safety when considering their automotive choices, causing OEMs to take these ratings very seriously.
One of the major changes to vehicles will be the introduction of Driver Monitoring Systems (DMS) by 2023/2024 in order to comply with Euro NCAPs new protocols and the Driver Drowsiness and Attention Warning (DDAW) functionality required by GSR. This will affect all new passenger cars and light commercial vehicles sold in the European Union.
New GSR applications
The European GSR adopted in 2019 focuses on 11 new active safety technologies that will help protect road users. While eight of these will be mandatory starting from 2024, the remaining three will follow until 2029.
The new applications include:
- Emergency stop signal,
- Reversing information,
- Tire pressure monitoring system,
- Intelligent speed assistance,
- Blind spot information system,
- Moving off information system,
- Alcohol interlock installation facilitation,
- Drowsiness and attention detection,
- Distraction recognition and prevention (2026),
- Improved direct vision from driver’s position (2029),
- Event (accident) data recorder (2029).
Drivers are familiar with some of these applications that have been applied to vehicles already such as the emergency stop signal or reversing information, however there are also new features they will experience, especially in the realm of driver monitoring.
DMS is an intelligent system, generally using camera outputs or fusion of multiple sensors, designed to track the driver’s behaviour, ensuring they remain focused. Real-time data about the driver and the in-cabin environment is captured and processed by sophisticated algorithms, all directly within the vehicle to ensure privacy, to identify the driver’s level of alertness and detect potential signs of distraction or drowsiness which are cited as the primary reasons of road accidents.
Through the new GSR, DMS will be mandatory in cars leading to the prevention of many accidents and fatalities, bringing the EU closer to its goal of halving fatalities and serious injuries stemming from road accidents by 2030.
Euro NCAP and Vision 2030
Modelled after the New Car Assessment Program by the US National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, Euro NCAP was founded to increase road safety through conducting voluntary safety assessments. Currently it follows a star rating protocol including four areas: adult occupant, child occupant, vulnerable road users and safety assist. To accommodate the advancements in technology regarding automated and assisted driving as well as the new regulations, starting from 2026 the four areas will be changed into four phases of a potential crash event namely, Safe Driving, Crash Avoidance, Crash Protection, and Post-Crash Safety.
One of Euro NCAP’s new protocols focuses on the safety benefits of driver monitoring. Currently there are three types of driver impairment defined and assessed by Euro NCAP: distraction, fatigue and unresponsiveness. It can be argued that these will become more detailed and extensive in the upcoming period to cover as many scenarios as possible.
In accordance with this, Euro NCAP aims to increase its scope to ensure the highest level of safety for everyone. In their latest release, Vision 2030, they laid out a roadmap for the near future listing applications that will be included in the tests in the upcoming years. In the category of active safety, there is a clear focus on driver impairment and cognitive distraction which will be tested through driver monitoring systems. In addition, Vision 2030 goes beyond the scope of GSR, which focuses exclusively on active safety, by mentioning passive safety applications such as adaptive restraint control systems.
Beyond Europe: Regulations and other NCAPs
Not only in Europe have regulators identified the big safety potential of DMS. Other countries such as the USA, India and China are planning to adopt similar regulations as the GSR.
Also, Euro NCAP has been very influential in terms of safety applications globally. Although they are not identical, similar organizations exist around the world, for instance ANCAP for Australia and New Zealand, Latin NCAP for Latin America, JNCAP for Japan, C-NCAP for China and more. Most NCAPs are modelled after Euro NCAP and follow its testing procedure besides some differences based on local laws and conditions. Therefore, it is safe to say that the protocols and roadmaps of Euro NCAP carry importance for the global automotive scene.
As technology continues to advance and these systems become more refined, we can expect even greater improvements in road safety. emotion3D is at the forefront of innovation when it comes to all things in-cabin analysis. Our technology covers all current regulations and NCAPs and we anticipate what will come next in order to optimally serve our customers with the goal of increasing road safety for everybody.
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