Safety first in introduction of new technologies for passenger cars

Passenger cars feature increasingly more new technologies that can support drivers at the wheel and can communicate with one another and the car’s surroundings. Such systems can enhance road safety, improve traffic circulation, reduce fuel consumption, and generate more possibilities for, e.g., the handicapped or the elderly to remain mobile. At the High Level Meeting on Automated and Connected Driving in Goteborg, on 19 June 2018, Minister Cora van Nieuwenhuizen (Infrastructure and Water Management) emphasised that safety is of paramount importance when introducing such technologies.

‘You only have one chance to do it right. People’s first introduction to new technologies must be a positive experience,’ Minister Cora Van Nieuwenhuizen said. ‘Attention to road safety, privacy, and security is vitally important when new technologies are introduced in traffic.’

Safe use

Many accidents can be attributed to human error. Systems exist that can assist drivers. Some such systems are more common than others. People are generally more familiar with parking assistance, traffic sign recognition, and cruise control than with smart speed control, adaptive cruise control, traffic lane assistance, or emergency call (e-call) systems. In order to safely utilise such new technologies, drivers first need to be aware of what is in their cars, and how they can best use such technologies. The Minister is meeting with the automotive industry and the Royal Dutch Touring Club ANWB to expand the knowledge of and experience with such systems. She has also placed this topic on the agenda in Goteborg.

Safety and security

In Europe, vehicles must meet the standards for type approval. These standards are mainly based on technical requirements. Modern passenger cars feature a great deal of software, that is regularly updated. In order to ensure that cars remain safe while on the road, the Minister has called upon her European counterparts and the automotive sector to join her in working on safe software, cyber security, and road safety.

Driving licence for cars

Cars may incorporate a great many sensors and technologies. A proper use of such technologies in all types of traffic situations is vitally important. This also means that cars should not just follow the rules, but also apply them in accordance with the expectations of other road users. The Netherlands has opened up opportunities for test driving autonomous vehicles with a driver present in the car. In controlled situations, the car learns to adapt to traffic. In addition, the draft bill governing the experimental use of self-driving vehicles with remote drivers has been submitted to the Senate. Together with the Netherlands Vehicle Authority and the driver licencing centre CBR, the Ministry of Infrastructure and Water Management is working on a “driving licence for passenger cars” and a so-called “software driver’s licence”. The Netherlands is inviting other nations and the automotive industry to collectively develop an ISO standard for this purpose. Such a driver’s licence in combination with current type approvals and attention to safe software will help Europe prepare for innovations in the automotive sector.