Geneva — Dozens of countries have come out in favour of fresh international regulation requiring all new cars and lighter motor vehicles to be equipped with automatic emergency braking systems, the UN said on Tuesday.

The UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said about 40 countries had so far agreed to a draft UN regulation for advanced emergency braking systems (AEBS) in cars.

“This will significantly improve road safety, especially in cities, where in the EU alone, over 9,500 fatalities were recorded in 2016, accounting for 38% of all road deaths,” the UNECE said in a statement.

Using sensors, such systems monitor the proximity of a vehicle or pedestrian in front of the AEBS-equipped car.

In situations where the sensors indicate a collision is imminent, and the driver does not react to the system’s warning alert, emergency braking is automatically applied to avoid a crash.

Such systems have been in use for a number of years in trucks and buses.

The new UN regulation would impose strict and internationally harmonised requirements for the use of AEBS at low speeds (up to 60km/h), even in unpredictable traffic situations in urban areas.

The regulation would apply to all new cars, but also to vans and minibuses carrying fewer than nine passengers.

“With this regulation in force, most of existing systems will have to be updated to meet stricter requirements,” the UNECE said.

“AEBS are already available for some cars in some countries, but there were no standard technical requirements guaranteeing the effective performance of such systems so far,” it added.

The draft regulation has been approved by a working group under the UNECE’s World Forum for Harmonisation of Vehicle Regulations, and will be submitted to the forum for formal adoption in June 2020, it said.

Once adopted, the regulation should enter into force in early 2020.

The EU and Japan, who have led the development of the regulation, have said that once the rule is in place, AEBS would become mandatory for all new cars and light commercial vehicles.

This will affect new cars sold in the 40 countries that have approved the draft regulation, including South Korea, Australia and Russia, though not China and the US.

Based on 2017 sales figures, once the new regulation takes effect, it would mean that more than 15-million new cars in the EU and over 4-million in Japan would be equipped with AEBS technology each year.