One new feature has us more than a little bit concerned.
In an effort to lower fatalities and injuries on roads in the EU, the Internal Market Committee MEPs approved a set of rules that will require new vehicles sold to be equipped with a range of safety devices. These range from driver drowsiness and attention warning to autonomous emergency braking and lane-keep assist systems. An alcohol interlock device meanwhile would require the driver to pass a breathalyzer test before they could operate their vehicle.
Extending tire pressure monitoring systems (already a requirement for EU passenger cars) to vans and SUVs and a new "direct vision” standard that reduces the size of trucks’ blind spots are also in the pipeline.
These are all worthy changes that should go some way in making European roads safer.However, the Intelligent Speed Assistance feature, which notifies the driver when they are travelling above the legal speed limit, seems a bit more ‘big brother’ checking up on you than anything else.
Why would we say that? Well, one of the other mandatory features will be an Accident Data Logger which would keep track of any ‘incidents’ the drive may be involved in. If every vehicle will be fitted with a device that can keep track of your every movement then it surely wouldn’t be long before this data could be used against us in any number of ways.
Possibly pre-empting a personal privacy outcry, the MEPs amended the proposal to make sure that accident data recorders operate on a "closed-loop system”, whereby the data stored is overwritten, and which does not allow the vehicle or driver to be identified. The data collected would also be anonymised, they promised.
These systems could be in place within the next three years and there is no doubt the US will have similar requirements sooner than later. Some insurance companies already offer customers the option of installing their own in-car nannies to lower premiums. Owning a powerful Ford Mustang or Corvette will eventually become a pointless exercise.
Róza Thun, a member of the EU parliament, said: "Safety of road users, especially unprotected ones, is our focus. This regulation deals in the most direct sense with life and death. We concentrated all our efforts on saving lives and mitigating injuries. The additional obligatory equipment for cars, trucks and buses will save human lives. I am very proud of the European Parliament; despite all our differences, the members supported this ambitious proposal."
It is hard to argue against any new initiative that on the face of it, has the goal of reducing vehicle-related injuries and fatalities, but it could also be the beginning of a new era of motoring where your every step is monitored, just like it already is online.