How new cars can prevent crashes

Cars are becoming more proactive in protecting their occupants and other road users. Here are the latest automatic safety systems designed to save lives...


Human error is a factor in 95% of road accidents, according to the EU. To address this, safety organisations around the world are keen to see the introduction of more advanced driver assistance systems and eventually driverless cars. The latter are still some way from hitting the road, but there are already plenty of systems that work alongside the driver to promote safe driving and can take over in critical situations to prevent accidents. 

Using a wide range of technologies from cameras to radar and light detection and range (LIDAR) systems situated around the car that work independently and together, these advanced driver assistance systems (collectively known as ADAS) monitor a car’s surroundings and can give warnings about imminent danger and assist with accelerating, braking and steering. The EU believes these systems can play a vital role in its aim to eliminate deaths from road accidents by 2050. 


That’s why the European Commission has drawn up a list of advanced safety features it says must be fitted to all new cars by 2022. This edict will apply in the UK too, even after Brexit. The new mandatory features include six ADAS systems: automatic emergency braking, drowsiness detection, distraction recognition and prevention, intelligent speed assistance, lane-keeping assistance and a reversing camera or detection system. 

At present, driver assistance systems only work in a supporting role; drivers are required by law to keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road while using them. However, from 2021, a new automated lane-keeping system (ALKS) may become legal. If it does, drivers will be able to send text messages or watch a video while the car drives itself in certain circumstances. 

To pave the way for this new system, the Government has launched a consultation into what new regulations will be needed for when drivers use this feature, including legal clarity on who is in charge of the car at any given time.