The move to fit new models of car, van, lorry and bus launched on to the EU/EEA market with vehicle safety technologies as standard has been hailed as a milestone by the European Transport Safety Council.

However, the organisation has also said standards for two of the new technologies are too weak and need to be urgently reviewed.

The ETSC said in particular the minimum standards for Intelligent Speed Assistance (ISA) could lead to manufacturers building cars with ISA systems with limited safety benefits which annoy drivers.

It says that is because the minimum legal specification allows for a warning-only system that features an annoying audible beep, potentially combined with inaccurate speed information due to systems that use only a camera-based sign recognition system with no backup in the form of a digital map of speed limit locations.

ETSC has also warned that the final technical standards for in-vehicle ‘black boxes’, also known as Electronic Data Recorders (EDRs) will leave the devices virtually useless to safety researchers.  The organisation said the specifications prohibit the recording of time, date and location information – which is essential to reconstructing the facts of a vehicle collision.  ETSC says that the specifications for EDRs must be revised as soon as possible.

Antonio Avenoso, Executive Director of ETSC said fitting the safety technologies would lead to thousands of lives saved in the future but added:

“Despite this big win for road safety, there are a couple of own-goals.

“Intelligent Speed Assistance, one of the life-saving systems with the most potential, has been severely weakened, and the new in-vehicle black boxes will be virtually useless to safety researchers.

“Vehicle safety is constantly moving forward, and there is no reason why these standards can’t be reviewed and updated in the near future.  We think that is essential.”