From July 2024*, all new trucks sold in the EU must comply with the updated General Safety Regulations (GSR). The regulations require a range of mandatory advanced safety features. What are they and how will they impact your transport business?
In 2019, the GSR were updated as a result of new innovations in automotive safety that can help lower the risk of accidents caused by human error. The update means a series of active safety systems that support drivers will become mandatory in new trucks from July 2024.
The objective is to help the EU reach ’Vision Zero’ – its long-term goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries on European roads by 2050.
The active safety features largely focus on keeping drivers attentive and alert. Some of them are already in place in some form in many trucks today.
A total of 11 active safety features are required. Eight of them will become mandatory on new trucks from July 2024. The remaining three will follow in 2026 and 2029. The features include:
1. Emergency stop signal: A flashing brake light (or similar) that signals to other road users behind the truck that the truck is quickly slowing down or braking heavily.
2. Reversing information: Technology, such as camera or sensors, to give the driver an overview of objects and people behind the truck.
3. Tire pressure monitoring system: A system that monitors the tire pressure and reports tire pressure loss in real time to the driver.
4. Intelligent speed assistance: A system that actively monitors speed and alerts the drivers if he/she is breaking the speed limit, to encourage them to slow down.
5. Blind spot information system: A system that warns the driver of cyclists riding adjacent or crossing in front.
6. Moving off information system: A system that warns the driver of vulnerable road users in front of the vehicle before driving off or when driving slowly.
7. Alcohol interlock installation facilitation: The rule change requires a standardised interface for alcoholic interlocks (breathalysers) in vehicles.
8. Drowsiness and attention detection: Safety systems to assess the driver’s alertness that for instance monitor how long somebody has been driving and warn the driver to take a break when needed.
9. Distraction recognition and prevention: A safety warning system capable of recognising the level of attention a driver is paying to a situation and warning the driver, if necessary. Set to roll out in a later phase in 2026.
10. Improved direct vision from driver’s position: Specific requirements to improve “direct vision” (what drivers can see directly through the windows of their vehicle) and remove blind spots. The new standards aim to allow drivers to see cyclists and pedestrians faster and easier. Set to roll out in a later phase in 2029.
11. Event (accident) data recorder: A “black box” accident data recorder. Set to roll out in a later phase in 2029.
They will save lives. The EU estimate is that the new regulations will prevent at least 25,000 road fatalities by 2038.
One key objective is to reduce the number of accidents between trucks and vulnerable road users. And three of the proposed features for trucks – the moving off and blind spot information systems – and the new direct vision standard – are aimed at protecting them.
The direct vision standards (point 10 above), which will be phased in starting in 2025, include specific requirements to improve how much drivers can see from the cab. Better direct vision from the cab has been shown to cut accident rates and driver reaction times. The new direct vision standard is directly inspired by a similar scheme in London, in which trucks are rated based on direct vision from the cab. Here, only trucks that meet a set standard are allowed to enter the city.
The GSR is part of a broader effort to make traffic safer, including better risk-mapping and updated rules on road infrastructure, especially for our most vulnerable road users – pedestrians and cyclists – in our growing cities.
Similar safety regulations are likely to be implemented in other nations over the coming years. Outside of the EU, Norway, Switzerland, Turkey, the UK and Israel are already set to follow the new GSR.
“We can expect to see more active safety technology that supports truck drivers in the future, as well as safer road infrastructures in cities. Looking further ahead, trucks will become more intelligent and more active when it comes to safety, with more features that intervene rather than just inform. However, there will still be a clear need to balance this with a well-trained driver. While active safety systems that support the driver and reduce the consequences of human error are essential, the driver is still the most important safety system in the truck,” says Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic & Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.
*For new truck types from July 2022 and for new truck registrations from July 2024.