New EU requirements come into force on July 6

Modern driver assistance systems have great potential – but also their limits

Jul 04, 2022

New EU regulations come into force on July 6: Many vehicle models newly put on the market from this date must have certain modern driver assistance systems on board. The aim is to further reduce the number of traffic fatalities in the European Union through technical assistance. “Modern driver assistance systems have great potential to prevent accidents,” says Ulrike Hetzel, Member of the Board and Chief Technology Officer of the expert organization DEKRA. “However, it is also important to realize where their limitations lie.”

  • New vehicle models must have a range of assistance systemss on board
  • DEKRA experts: Drivers remain responsible for their vehicles
  • Long-term reliable function must be ensured and independently tested
In her view, it is crucial to point out that the new technologies now prescribed are assistance systems - no less, but no more: “These systems support drivers, but do not take responsibility away from them. So, we're not talking about automated driving functions here. Whoever is behind the wheel must remain in control,” says the DEKRA expert.
Emergency braking and lane keeping systems also in cars
Among other things, what was already mandatory for certain trucks and buses is now also coming to passenger cars and light commercial vehicles: advanced emergency braking assistants that must at least detect stationary and moving vehicles and brake independently. From 2024, emergency braking assistants must also be able to react to pedestrians and cyclists.
New types of passenger cars must also now be equipped with emergency lane-keeping assistants. They warn the driver when the vehicle threatens to leave the lane. If the driver does not react and the vehicle does in fact leave the lane, the systems actively intervene.
Advanced Emergency Braking Systems and Emergency Lane-Keeping Systems are examples of systems that intervene directly in critical situations or before an imminent collision. They help in a concrete and situation-oriented way to avoid accidents that would otherwise be very likely. Other systems address potentially critical events, work preventively and are rather independent of concrete situations.
Blind spot assistant, drowsiness warning, tire pressure monitoring system
One example is the so-called blind spot information system, which warns the driver if a vehicle is in the area not visible through the rearview mirror, i.e. in the blind spot, and a lane change would therefore be dangerous.
A drowsiness warning system, which analyzes the driver's attention and prompts him or her to take a break if necessary, must also be installed in new car and truck models in the future. The same applies to devices for installing an alcohol immobilizer to help prevent drunk driving, as well as so-called Intelligent Speed Assist (ISA).
“ISA is a good example to describe the limitations of some of the new systems that are now being mandated,” the DEKRA executive said. “The system warns the driver when the maximum speed allowed on a particular stretch of road is exceeded. However, many accidents happen because drivers are driving within the generally permissible speed limit, but too fast for the current road or weather conditions. Accident experts call this ‘inappropriate speed’ – and unfortunately ISA can’t help with this,” says Ulrike Hetzel.
Long-term reliable function must be ensured and tested
Assistance systems such as those newly prescribed can only realize their potential for improving road safety if they function reliably over the entire life cycle of the vehicle. “This must be ensured – and it must also be possible to test this independently as part of vehicle inspection,” says the DEKRA expert.