On 6 July 2022, Regulation (EU) 2019/2144 on vehicle general safety started to apply. The Regulation introduces new rules on road safety and establishes the legal framework for the approval of automated and fully driverless vehicles in the EU. The Regulation was proposed by the European Commission in 2018, on the basis of studies which have shown that human error is estimated to play a role in 95% of accidents, thus indicating the need for improving vehicle and road safety.

The novelties of the Regulation can be divided in two categories. On the one hand, there are new rules on road safety and, on the other, it lays the foundation for the new legal framework on automated vehicles. The majority of the provisions in the Regulation concern road safety, whereas a single article is dedicated to automated vehicles.

As concerns road safety, the Regulation requires the incorporation of safety measures to assist the driver. Manufacturers will need to demonstrate compliance with the new provisions in order to be allowed to place on the market, register or enter into service their vehicles. These rules will apply to new vehicle types from 6 July and to all new vehicles from 7 July 2024.

The Regulation imposes different safety features depending on the type of vehicle where they must be incorporated. There are basic safety features that shall be installed in any type of road vehicle. These include intelligent speed assistance, reversing detection with camera or sensors, attention warning in case of driver drowsiness or distraction, event data recorders as well as an emergency stop signal. However, for specific vehicle types, there are specific requirements. Cars and vans will need, in addition, other safety features such as lane keeping systems and automated braking. Buses and trucks will also need to be equipped with additional safety features, such as technologies for better recognising possible blind spots, warnings to prevent collisions with pedestrians or cyclists and tyre pressure monitoring systems.

As concerns automated vehicles, the Regulation prescribes that these vehicles shall comply with the technical rules laid down in delegated and implementing acts that the Commission will adopt according to the Regulation. Therefore, the Regulation does not directly set out the technical rules for automated vehicles, but delegates this power to the Commission. In this regard, the Commission will be required to prescribe technical rules concerning: i) systems to replace the driver’s control of the vehicle, including signalling, steering, accelerating and braking, ii) systems to provide the vehicle with real-time information on the state of the vehicle and the surrounding area, iii) driver availability monitoring systems, iv) event data recorders for automated vehicles, v) harmonised format for the exchange of data for instance for multi‐brand vehicle platooning, vi) systems to provide safety information to other road users.