Regulatory bodies

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Current vehicle regulations are set by European Union law, and in many cases refer to regulatory agreements, mostly covering technical issues and standardisation, developed by the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UN-ECE) Working Party 29, under the ‘1958 Agreement’.

These regulations and directives cover virtually all aspects of vehicle design for most types of self-propelled road-based vehicles, as well as trailers. This includes requirements for vehicle systems such as braking, lighting, crash performance, and of tail/non tail-pipe and noise emissions. Type approval tests are carried out under the control of the type approval authority or an authorised technical service.

To ensure a consistent approach, the methodology is outlined in EU Directive 2007/46/EC, also known as the ‘Framework Directive on the type-approval of motor vehicles’. The Directive outlines and classifies the various applicable vehicle types and defines the relationship between EU Directives and UN-ECE Regulations.

Currently activities are taking place to address the emergence of automated vehicles:

  • Testing on open roads: Member States have already concluded that the testing of vehicles (with a driver/operator) is already possible under 1949 Geneva and 1968 Vienna conventions on road traffic.
    Member States and the Commission should ensure that there is coordination for cross-border open road testing in only one EU-wide focal point.
    Member States with the support of the Commission could further work on the common building blocks (e.g. items to be documented) developed so far by GEAR 2030 in order to extend mutual recognition of the authorization/approval of vehicles for testing on open roads already implemented in some Member States (The Netherlands and Spain).
  • Member States should confirm in UNECE that the 1968 Vienna Convention as recently amended is compatible with upcoming automated vehicles with a driver (levels 2-3-4). Member States shall speed up the discussion in UNECE on driverless vehicles (levels 4/5). Member States should amend their national traffic rules for 2020 systems and should start reviewing their traffic rules for 2030 systems.
  • The tasks of the vehicle and the driver shall be clarified/regulated (urgently for 2020 systems) in the relevant instruments (e.g. vehicle legislation and traffic rules but also driver training/information tools) to ensure that the vehicle will respect traffic rules and that the driver is not confused or does not misuse the system. Human Machine Interface (HMI) is particularly important for levels 2 to 4 automated vehicles and rules should ensure a high level of commonality.
  • Communication (e.g. through external HMI) with other road users (e.g. vulnerable road users) and Authorities (e.g. police) will be important for driverless vehicles and should also be considered in the relevant instruments.
  • For international traffic rules and vehicle Regulations, the issues mentioned above shall be clarified preferably in the relevant groups of UNECE (WP1 for the Vienna Convention /WP29 for vehicle regulations). The UNECE discussions shall be finalised as soon as possible especially for vehicles expected by 2020.
  • Pending the finalisation of fully harmonised UNECE requirements for vehicle Regulations, manufacturers can already use the current EU framework which provides for the mutual recognition of a national ad-hoc safety assessment for new technologies (Article 20 of Directive 2007/46/EC). The Commission should develop EU implementing rules for systems currently covered by Article 20 procedure in the framework of Directive 2007/46/EC if it is expected that the UNECE will not deliver by the end of 2017.
  • Reflection should also start for 2030 systems in the relevant fora for other EU legal instruments such as the driving license directive, professional driving directive, the directive on roadworthiness testing, etc.
  • Member States should report when they intend to develop national rules (e.g. having your hands on the wheel, distance) to support converging approaches across the EU. The Commission should support the development of harmonized rules when needed.
  • The Commission should monitor the need to revise the Motor insurance directive and product liability directive (e.g. definition of product/service, definition of defect) as well as the need for additional EU legal instruments with the future development of technologies.
ECWVTA The European Community Whole Vehicle Type Approval is the process used to ensure that motor vehicles, including automated vehicles, intended to be placed on the market for consumers meet relevant environmental, safety and security standards. Type approval is imperative, given the large body of requirements that motor vehicles are subject to. During the process sample motor vehicles, which are taken to be representative of a ‘type’, are physically tested to check their conformity with these standards. Upcoming future challenges are how to assess the software / artificial intelligence of automated vehicles and how to deal with over the air updates. Link