Ford BlueCruise demo video.

EU approves ‘hands off’ level 2 driving systems despite safety fears

  • March 20, 2024

The EU’s Technical Committee on Motor Vehicles (TCMV) met behind closed doors this week and approved two ‘hands-off’ level 2 driver assist systems from Ford (‘BlueCruise’) and BMW for use across the EU. These systems do not meet current EU safety regulations but will now be permitted under an exemption procedure.

ETSC is very concerned that these systems bring no safety benefits and are even more likely to cause driver disengagement / distraction than current systems because ‘hands-off’ systems encourage the sense that the vehicle is in full control, when it is not, leading to driver overreliance. These systems are considered to be Level 2 automation where the driver is supposed to supervise at all times as opposed to Level 3 where the vehicle takes full control.

A Ford vehicle with BlueCruise was involved in a deadly crash last month in the United States – a US National Transport Safety Board (NTSB) investigation is underway to determine the cause and whether BlueCruise was involved.

IIHS in the US rated Level 2 systems including Ford BlueCruise and a system from BMW as ‘poor‘ for safety in a new rating scheme launched earlier this month.

ETSC has written to the EU TCMV committee to restate our concerns about ‘hands off’ Level 2 systems (see below).

Unlike in the United States of America, the EU does not mandate mandatory reporting of crashes involving Level 2 driver assistance systems. Nor does the EU have an agency with similar powers to the US National Transport Safety Board to investigate crashes involving driver assistance and automated driving systems. ETSC says an agency with these powers should be a prerequisite to further roll-out of more advanced assistance and automated driving systems in the EU.