New vehicles to feature additional mandatory safety equipment from 2022 and van manufacturers have much to do to comply

All new cars and vans sold in the UK from mid-2022 must feature as standard a raft of safety technology including advanced emergency braking (AEB) systems, driver drowsiness and attention warning systems and event data recorders.

The technology, some of which will also be mandatory in sport utility vehicles, HGVs and buses, is to be fitted following European Council agreement.

Although the UK is destined to leave the European Union, the UK Government has already said that it will write European legislation into UK law following Brexit. 

However, just one-in-10 new vans on sale today features any of the lifesaving technology that is set to become mandatory, according to exclusive analysis by publication What Car? Vans. It has calculated that 88% of all new vans fail to meet any of the proposed European safety standards.

While some van manufacturers are fitting safety features, such as advanced emergency braking (AEB), the analysis of every van derivative on sale in the UK revealed that many top-of-the range examples come fitted with multiple safety features as standard, lower specification models typically do without the potentially life-saving technologies.

In adopting the regulation – European Parliament agreement came last March – the Council said the mandatory safety features to be introduced would provide increased protection of vehicle occupants and vulnerable road users to significantly reduce the number of road casualties.

Under the new rules, all motor vehicles, including sport utility vehicles, vans, trucks and buses will have to be equipped with: Intelligent speed assistance, alcohol interlock installation facilitation, driver drowsiness and attention warning systems, advanced driver distraction warning systems, emergency stop signals, reversing detection systems, event data recorders and accurate tyre pressure monitoring.

Additionally, cars and vans will also have to be equipped with: Advanced emergency braking (AEB) systems, emergency lane-keeping systems and enlarged head impact protection zones capable of mitigating injuries in collisions with vulnerable road users, such as pedestrians and cyclists.

Neil Greig, IAM RoadSmart director of policy and research, said: “Speed limiters will still be voluntary so drivers don’t have to use them, but they could save their licence if they do.

“Although all new cars from 2022 cars will be enabled to have an ‘alcolock’ it will be up to the UK Government to decide how they are used. We see them as a useful tool for repeat drink-drive offenders to get them back to safe driving after a ban. It is very unlikely that the vast majority of the law-abiding public will ever have to blow in a tube to start their car.”

In addition to the general requirements and existing systems – such as lane departure warning and advanced emergency braking (AEB) systems – HGVs and buses will have to be designed and manufactured so that blind spots around the vehicle are significantly reduced. They will also have to be equipped with advanced systems capable of detecting pedestrians and cyclists located in close proximity to the vehicle.

The regulation is part of the European Commission’s third ‘Europe on the Move’ package, launched in May 2018.

What Car? Vans’ analysis found just 12% of all new vans on sale had one of the eight mandatory safety technologies as standard, while only one in five vans came with at least one of the eight as an optional extra.

Advanced emergency braking (AEB), which automatically applies the brakes if it senses an imminent collision, is standard in one-in five of the 228 new vans and pick-ups on sale in the UK. Studies by Euro NCAP, the European vehicle safety standards agency, previously found the technology reduced real-word rear-end collisions by 38%.

Other technologies, including lane keeping assistance, which automatically keeps vans on the centre of the lane, was available as standard in only 2% of all new vans on sale, and an optional extra in 18%.

Meanwhile, new technologies, including intelligent speed assistance, which helps drivers to avoid exceeding the speed limit, and automatically slows the vehicle down when the limit drops, is found in just 3% of new vans on sale, while crash-test improved seat-belts and accident data recorders are not fitted as standard to any van currently on sale in the UK.

Despite van drivers covering on average 13,000 miles a year driver distraction and drowsiness alerts were standard on just one-in-10 vans on sale, and an optional extra in 11%.

In 2012, Euro NCAP tested some of Europe’s best-selling vans and called on “manufacturers to offer these vehicles with higher levels of safety equipment” after many of the models tested were found to lack basic safety equipment such as electronic stability control (ESC).

Van manufacturers have since made improvements to driver, passenger and pedestrian safety. In the latest Euro NCAP tests, for example, the Ford Transit (pictured) achieved a top five-star rating.

Jim Holder, editorial director of What Car? Vans, said: “There are more than four million vans on the road today. Van drivers shouldn’t be waiting for legislation to come into force to have access to the latest safety technology as standard. Though the industry has made strides in recent years, it clearly still has a lot more work to do.” 

Share of safety technology found in new vans on sale

Technology

Not available

Optional Extra

Standard

Driver Drowsiness/Distraction Alert

79%

11%

10%

Intelligent Speed Assistance

88%

9%

3%

Reversing Camera

34%

47%

19%

Reversing Sensor

25%

36%

39%

Data Recorder in case of an accident

97%

3%

0%

Lane Keeping Assistance

80%

18%

2%

Advanced Emergency Braking (AEB)

41%

37%

22%

Crash test-improved seat belts

100%

0%

0%

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