The European Parliament just passed legislation that makes 12 safety features mandatory on all European cars built in and after 2022.

EU auto

By making these safety features mandatory, the European Parliament hopes to reduce road fatalities by half. Some of the safety features are already offered on cars, often as options. For the sake of manufacturing simplicity, many of these features will show up on European cars imported to America. Some of the features will be welcomed, and others will cause some controversy.

So if you either own a European performance car or are looking to buy one in the near future, you may want to read up on all the safety features that will be mandatory on European cars after 2021.

1. Advanced Emergency Braking

Advanced emergency braking is basically a feature that detects any obstacles that are too close to the vehicle and then stops or slows the car without any help from the driver.

Insurance companies have confirmed that having an advanced emergency braking system on your car will reduce your chances of rear-ending another car. That’s probably a big reason why the EU decided to make this feature mandatory on all cars produced after 2021.

2. Breathalyzer Interlock Installation Facilitation


Drunk driving accounts for about 25% of road deaths in Europe. But, this regulation does not require a breathalyzer on every car. It does require that all auto manufacturers:

  • Provide an interface to a breathalyzer interlock.
  • Use the same breathalyzer interlock interface.

The purpose of this is to facilitate the easy installation of a breathalyzer interlock should a court order one to be installed.

3. Drowsiness and Attention Detection

Drowsy driving is impaired driving, and it accounts for about 20% of car accidents. The design of a drowsiness and attention detection system varies between automakers. The most common technologies found in drowsiness and attention detection systems are:

  • Steering pattern monitoring
  • Lane position monitoring
  • Driver eye/face monitoring
  • Physiological monitoring

4. Distraction Recognition and Prevention

The purpose of a distraction recognition and prevention system is to monitor the driver’s behavior and issue a visual or audio warning if it finds that the driver is distracted. Some systems will even halt the car or alert a live operator if the driver ignores the warning or is unresponsive.

5. Event Data Recorder

An event data recorder is a device that monitors driving events and then records them. It’s a useful tool for the police and insurance companies in the event of a car accident. They can use the information to figure out exactly what happened just before the accident. This is controversial because people fear that:

  • The data could be used against them in court if they had an accident.
  • Their travels may be tracked even when they haven't had an accident.

6. Emergency Stop Signal

Emer stop

Cars stop on the road all the time. Maybe there’s an accident or another road hazard that causes an emergency or heavy braking situation. With an emergency stop signal system in your car, drivers around you will be alerted when there’s a potential road hazard ahead of you. Under hard braking, your car will flash its brake and/or hazard lights to alert other drivers. Under normal braking, the brake lights will illuminate as they normally do.

7. Full-Width Frontal Occupant Protection (Plus Improved Seatbelts)

After 2021, the European Parliament will set more stringent frontal occupant protection standards in order to increase protection for the driver and passengers. This includes improving the seatbelt design.

8. Head Impact Zone Enlargement (Plus Safety Glass)

A head impact zone is an area on the hood of the car where a pedestrian’s head commonly hits in an accident. It’s designed to be as safe as possible for a head to hit in order to reduce serious injuries and fatalities. The head impact zone is why most European cars do not have hood scoops. The European Parliament has ordered for the zone to be bigger. It also requires safety windshield glass to be installed on all cars.

The European Parliament decided to make this feature mandatory because about 14% of all road deaths involve pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.

9. Intelligent Speed Assistance

Intelligent speed assistance (ISA) is a safety software that’s designed to alert the driver when they exceed the speed limit. Some ISA systems will be more intrusive with features that limit engine power or increase the accelerator resistance once you exceed the speed limit. This article has more information about ISA if you’re interested in reading up on it.

10. Lane-Keeping Assist

Lane assist

Image Credit: Mercedes Benz

Lane-keeping assist is a system already found on many cars these days. The purpose of the lane-keeping assist system is to alert the driver (via visual and/or audio cues) that the vehicle is crossing into another lane without signaling. Some advanced lane-keeping assist systems will even self-correct the car’s steering and veer it back into its lane.

11. Side-Impact Occupant Protection

All vehicles built in or after 2022 must have greater occupant protection against side impacts. Auto manufacturers can decide how to amp up the side impact occupant protection in their vehicles, but they have to meet the standards set by the European Parliament.

12. Reversing Camera or Detection System

Backup cameras and sensors are quite common on cars these days, but they will be made mandatory after 2021. This reduces the risk of running over a child, animal, or another obstacle behind the vehicle.