All imported new vehicles are subject to Directive 2007/46/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council which established an approval system for vehicles within the EU. This system ensures that a vehicle must be manufactured in compliance with a wide range of safety standards before it can be registered in the State and placed on the market. This ‘type-approval’ system is periodically updated to account for improvements in safety standards and to allow advanced safety features be introduced as mandatory requirements. Amendments to Directive 2007/46/EC are scrutinised, evaluated and voted upon by a number of different EU-level technical committees and working groups that are attended by representatives from the State.
Last week, the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union reached a provisional political agreement on a number of proposed amendments to the General Safety Regulation (Regulation (EC) No. 661/2009). The proposed amendments will introduce a number of advanced safety systems that aim to reduce the number of fatalities and accidents on our roads and my Department welcomes and supports these measures. The majority of these improvements will come into effect from 2022 and will be a mandatory element of the type-approval regime (i.e. introduced via the manufacturing of new vehicles).
Future technological advancements in vehicles may allow for the interaction of the vehicle with road infrastructure. Insofar as the technology has been established for this, initial legislative measures have been developed at the appropriate international levels. At present there are a number of challenges facing my Department (and indeed the wider European Union) in assessing the likely future path of technological development in relation to vehicles, systems and communications, before considering whether and how further significant new or amended legislation might be brought forward.