As the harmonized European regime prescribed by Directives 2014/45, 2014/46 and 2014/47 approaches completion in 2023, both the European Parliament and the European Commission have been working on the future of motor vehicle inspections, aware that the current protocols were developed and perfected over a decade ago and much has changed in the meantime. Starting from a study of the available data, in March 2021 the European Parliament adopted a resolution in which, on the one hand, it praised the improvements introduced, including greater uniformity at European level and mutual recognition between member states of roadworthiness certificates while, on the other, it recognized that some improvements are still needed. The first and most relevant finding is that between 2010 and 2019 traffic-related death rate was still higher than hoped with poor maintenance and mechanical malfunctions being among the main causes of accidents albeit not the primary ones. The conclusion is that there is still much to be done to achieve the levels of road safety needed to at least approach the ambitious goal of zero fatalities. And the Parliament itself identifies technological progress, connected vehicles, assisted driving and shared mobility as the reasons why DMV inspections should be adjusted in frequency and quality. Along with this, the Parliament also points the finger at the widespread practice of odometer frauds and the lack of cargo insurance on freight vehicles.
In conclusion, the Parliament invites the Commission to update roadworthiness protocols by explicitly mentioning ADAS as devices to be included in periodic inspections given their relevance to safety, also in view of the fact that some are about to become mandatory equipment. And the European Commission, for its part, has not been idle. The new head of DG MOVE's Road Safety Office, Claire Depré, presented to the Inspection Specialist Group the guidelines that the Commission intends to follow in order to satisfy Parliament's requests and develop the future guidelines for roadworthiness tests. First of all, new safety (ADAS and others) and pollution (particulate matter and NOx) tests, new roadside checks and preventive actions to curb the plague of odometer frauds and digital documents. Then the action plan: by the end of this year the definition of a draft to be presented for public consultation, which will be followed by a draft that will be submitted to political consultation by 2022, to arrive at the final bill in mid-2023. On this occasion EGEA, a member of DG MOVE's Inspections Specialist Group, presented its "position paper" in which it lists a number of revised and additional technical inspections that could be considered. One of the key points for EGEA relates to the increasingly popular shared mobility and all that this implies. First and foremost an extensive use of the vehicle with the consequent need for greater attention to maintenance, which leads to the need to increase the frequency of DMV tests as is already the case with public transport vehicles. Another important aspect for more efficient inspections is the availability of technical data; not only inspection centres but also workshops must be able to access and consult these if the target is to have safer vehicles. Safety is also achieved through automation, and this is why EGEA would like to see the widespread adoption of secure data exchange protocols between equipment (as happens in Italy with MCTCNet2) so as to avoid improper discretionary judgements.
In addition to ADAS, the new tests to be introduced include, still according to EGEA, suspension tests, new headlights tests updated to new lighting technologies and additional pollution tests including coolants, NOx and particulate matter as is the case in some countries (see "Fine particulate matter testing adopted by the first European countries" Autoattrezzati, Pneurama 3/2021). Perhaps not all the suggestions will be taken into consideration: unfortunately, institutions lack the necessary awareness but, if the intention is there, we still have the time to lay a solid foundation for the future, bearing in mind that technology moves way faster than political decisions and if farsighted actions are not taken promptly all this effort may amount to nothing.