Safety in the automotive sector

Safety in the automotive sector

The European Commission’s work on motor vehicle safety deals with the safety of drivers, passengers, and especially children in vehicles. It also focuses on road safety for pedestrians. The work covers light-duty (cars, vans) and heavy-duty vehicles (buses, coaches, and trucks).

Motor vehicle safety

Europe realised a major step forward in vehicle safety on 1 November 2014 with new safety features becoming mandatory for every new car, van, truck, and bus sold in the EU thanks to the General Safety Regulation (EC) No 661/2009.

In addition to standard electronic stability control systems, all new cars sold in the EU must be equipped with new safety features, such as driver seatbelt reminders, ISOFIX child seat anchorages or tyre pressure monitoring systems. A gear shift indicator and the tyre pressure monitoring system will also help drivers use less fuel.

From 1 November 2015, all new trucks and buses must also be equipped with advanced emergency braking systems as well as lane departure warning systems.

Protection of pedestrians

The Pedestrian Protection Regulation (EC) 78/2009 was adopted in 2009. The regulation aims to protect pedestrians involved in a collision with a vehicle. It requires manufacturers to fit Brake Assist Systems into their vehicles to reduce the stopping distance and lower the speed of impact. It also requires them to make energy absorbing bonnets and front bumpers.

Vehicle safety - next steps

The Commission monitors technical developments in enhanced passive safety requirements and considers possible inclusion of new safety features and enhanced active safety technologies. The Commission reported the latest developments to the European Parliament and Council in December 2016.


eCall is an automatic emergency call system for motor vehicles. It dramatically shortens the time it takes for emergency services to arrive. Carmakers will have to install the technology in all new car and van models from 31 March 2018 onwards. The system could help save hundreds of lives every year and thus improve road safety in Europe. The eCall system is covered by two legislative acts:

  • Regulation 2015/758 on eCall type-approval eCall amending Directive 2007/46/EC (making the vehicle fit for eCall)
  • Decision 585/2014/EU on the deployment of the interoperable EU-wide eCall service (making the public infrastructure fit for eCall)

Administrative provisions and detailed technical requirements are established in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2017/78 and Commission Delegated Regulation (EU) 2017/79.

The final eCall report (2014) documents structure and assess the available information which may offer support in developing vehicle approval requirements and test procedures with respect to the eCall in-vehicle systems.

Protection of children

EU laws require that seatbelts in vehicles must be used by all passengers and that approved Child Restraint Systems have to be used when children are on board. Approved Child Restraint Systems must meet the stringent safety requirements laid down by UNECE Regulation No 44 for conventional seatbelt mounted or ISOFIX child seats. For i-Size compliant child seats, they must meet UNECE Regulation No 129.

Supporting documents