The revised EU General Safety Regulation (GSR) and how it will impact hauliers

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From 2022, selected active safety systems will become mandatory in Europe. Volvo Trucks’ new Traffic and Product Safety Director, Anna Wrige Berling, assesses the implications for the transport industry.

Anna Write, Safety Director, Volvo Trucks

“The most important safety system is still the driver,” says Anna Wrige Berling, Traffic and Product Safety Director, Volvo Trucks.

What is the revised EU General Safety Regulation (GSR)? 
“As a result of new innovations in automotive safety, the European Commission is proposing a series of mandatory accident avoidance systems for European vehicles, introduced in three steps from 2022 to 2028, to protect both passengers and vulnerable road users (pedestrians, cyclists and motorcyclists). The EU has now reached a provisional agreement on the proposals. For all vehicles, these include warning of driver drowsiness and distraction, intelligent speed assistance, reversing safety with cameras or sensors and data recorders. The ultimate objective is to meet the EU’s long-term goal of zero fatalities and serious injuries, known as ‘Vision Zero’, on European roads by 2050.” 

What does it mean for Volvo Trucks and its customers?
“It will have some impact on our safety development as some of these systems are already in place, but others will have to be developed or slightly adapted from what is available today.  Road safety is currently high on the political agenda and new technology is enabling increasingly sophisticated safety systems for trucks. We’re seeing a big rise in interest in active safety solutions to protect vulnerable road users in particular and that’s definitely as a result of tougher safety demands in cities, with London’s direct vision standard (better cab visibility for drivers via a series of adaptations) for HGVs leading the way. At the same time, we believe that the most important safety system is still the driver. Active safety systems that support the driver and reduce the consequences of human error are essential, but that doesn’t take away the importance of having a well-trained driver. A well-trained driver is still the best way to avoid ending up in critical situations.”

How does Volvo Trucks view the revised GSR?
“It’s good to see tougher safety regulations as this standardizes the industry and makes sure everyone is at least above a certain base level. Volvo Trucks has always been at the forefront of active safety solutions and we have been part of the discussions leading up to the revised GSR. Our history in traffic safety and the fact that we have our own research from the Volvo Trucks Accident Research Team carries a lot of weight in the discussions. It is important that, when regulations for new safety features are introduced, they are based on real data and that the potential accident-reducing effect is analyzed thoroughly.”

Is ‘Vision Zero’ a realistic target?
“At Volvo Trucks, we view Vision Zero as a mindset. Essentially all accidents are avoidable so in that sense it is possible, but there are many factors that need to be addressed to be able to avoid all of them in reality – for example, road infrastructure, safety awareness and the right combination of safety systems. Vision Zero actually originated in Sweden. It has been adopted by the Volvo Group and has spread around the world. At Volvo Trucks, zero fatalities and serious injuries of course come first – but even minor incidents involving trucks can have a big impact on society, causing delays and congestion, so we also embrace this as part of our vision.”

What can we expect for truck safety in the future?
“Road safety, particularly in cities, is now getting the recognition it deserves. We can expect to see more active safety technology that supports truck drivers, safer road infrastructure and a safer environment in cities – in Europe but also in other countries – and for passengers and vulnerable road users alike.” 

THE EU’S REVISED GENERAL SAFETY REGULATION

• The GSR proposes new mandatory, active safety features in European vehicles to protect passengers, pedestrians and cyclists and mitigate human error, which causes 90% of accidents on European roads.

• The revised proposal recognizes that increased active safety offers significant potential to compensate for human error and aims to pave the way towards more automated and connected mobility solutions to improve road safety.

• The EU Parliament, Council and Commission have reached an agreement and now the final process is to define the detail of the technical requirements.

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