On-board equipment and occupant safety: what it is and will be standard in the new cars

On-board equipment and occupant safety: what it is and will be standard in the new cars

On-board equipment and occupant safety

The car sector is constantly evolving, if on the one hand we are witnessing a progressive transition to electric power, on the other hand the achievement of an ever greater degree of safety by manufacturers. If once safety aids could be counted on the fingers of one hand and the cornerstone technologies were the airbag, ABS and stability and traction control systems, now the aids that you can get as standard and are not really many; But which are now standard and which are not? Also, what standard features can we expect when buying a new vehicle? Let's try to clarify.

First of all we need to make a clarification: over the years we have slowly moved from developing passive safety systems (airbags) to active systems (ADAS) designed mainly to prevent dangerous situations and accidents. What are ADAS? Known as Advanced Driver Assistance Systems, they are electronic driver assistance systems developed to improve car safety. The devices that fall into this family are numerous: from the rain sensor that automatically activates the windscreen wipers to the adaptive cruise control, from automatic emergency braking to automatic signal recognition. There are really a lot of them.

Where the ADAS are born

Born with the aim of minimizing the risks encountered when driving, the ADAS have become mandatory with a first protocol of EuroNCAP which required the introduction as standard equipment of: autonomous emergency braking, assisted speed control systems, lane keeping, sign detection systems.

Subsequently, two community directives were issued (661/2009 CE and 78/2009 CE) which established the obligation for manufacturers to install certain functions, even in the basic and entry-level versions, to ensure a high degree of safety.

Since last year, the long list of mandatory ADAS on newly registered cars has been further extended and now includes: Automatic Emergency Braking (AEB); Lane Keeping Assist Emergency Lane Keeping Assist (ELK); drowsiness monitoring and driver distraction recognition (DMS); Intelligent Speed ​​Assistance (ISA) to help maintain the most suitable speed.

The obligation starts from 1 January 2022 for new homologated vehicles, on those already on sale they must be standard from 2024.

ADAS mandatory from 2024

As anticipated, there will be a further crackdown on manufacturers as they will be mandatory:

Automatic high beam (AHB): when driving at night on extra-urban roads it is always advisable to have the right lighting; High-Beam Assist automatically switches from high beam to low beam and vice versa, always maintaining an elevated view of the road; Collision warning: similarly to other prevention systems, the system warns the driver via radar sensors that monitor the road in the event of an obstacle and failure to brake; Lane Keeping Assist Emergency Lane Keeping Assist (ELK): helps correct the trajectory of the vehicle which unintentionally veers out of its lane; Assist in maintaining the most suitable speed Intelligent Speed ​​Assistance (ISA): a system capable of adapting the driving speed taking into consideration the speed limits or the route. The system works with the video camera or with the help of data provided by the GPS; automatic emergency braking (AEB): a system capable of slowing down or braking the vehicle completely when it detects the risk of a collision, thus managing to mitigate or avoid the impact altogether; Drowsiness Monitoring and Driver Distraction Recognition (DMS): Distracted driving is a major cause of crashes. Fatigue and distractions can be detected directly by eye monitoring sensors or indirectly by identifying typical driving behaviors of a struggling driver; Blind spot monitoring (BMS): a rather common problem is to understand if the lane we are about to occupy is actually empty or if there is a vehicle hidden in our blind spot. This system detects what is around us, signaling the arrival of another car; Rear area monitoring: when maneuvering in reverse, perhaps when exiting a roadside parking space, it is easy to fail to clearly see the arrival of another car or cyclist. This system carefully analyzes the surrounding environment and blocks the car if necessary; Traffic Sign Recognition (RSA): Traffic Sign Recognition "frames" road signs by projecting them onto the dashboard. Some simpler models only show speed limits, while others also show do's and don'ts; Pedestrian detection system : Like the automatic braking system, the device detects the presence of pedestrians and automatically activates emergency braking if necessary. In addition to the new-concept ones mentioned above, the following are also mandatory:

ABS: anti-lock system, it is an electronic control unit that prevents the wheels of vehicles from locking, guaranteeing driveability during braking; Hill start assist (HAC): a system that helps the driver in hill starts, which is particularly problematic if there is a manual gearbox; Seat belt buzzer (front and rear): a system equipped with a seat occupancy sensor and a display which signals that the vehicle occupants are not using the seat belts; Traction control (ASR): a system capable of controlling the skid of the car; Stability control (ESP): a system capable of controlling vehicle stability; Active Front Headrests (WIL): The interior of the active headrests comprises a spring mechanism activated by a pyrotechnic actuator. When the pyrotechnic actuators receive the activation signal from the airbag electronic control unit, they are activated to prevent or limit whiplash injuries to the front passengers; Brake force distribution (EBD): a system which partialises the braking of the rear wheels of a vehicle, thus avoiding blocking during violent decelerations; Tire Pressure Warning System (TPMS): A warning system that warns the operator of a vehicle of a dangerous change in the air pressure in one or more tyres; Brake Assist System (BA): A system that compensates for indecisive intervention by the driver. If the pressure on the brake pedal is not adequate, the system imparts all the force necessary to stop the vehicle; ISOFIX restraint systems: international standardized system for anchoring child seats to the car. Compared to fastening with the ISOFIX seat belts, it is safer, easier and faster since it involves hooking the sleds directly inside the seat. Some manufacturers have already adapted well in advance, such as Toyota for example, which has also installed all the ADAS on entry level trim levels (such as the Yaris Cross Active ) which will be mandatory starting next year, creating an extremely safe car. The Yaris Cross is a small crossover that we were able to test a few months ago in the Lounge trim level and were pleasantly surprised by both the on-board comfort and minimal fuel consumption.

Excluded optionals

In addition to all that required in terms of safety, all optionals related to comfort naturally remain excluded which, depending on the trim level, may or may not be standard. In this regard, we have carried out a previous study highlighting what we believe are the "must-haves" to have on board. If you are looking for a new car, we recommend a quick read: you might miss something that may not be installed at a later time.

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