Safety and emissions regulations have long been touchy subjects in the auto industry, because they can dictate the legality of automobiles and are not the same from country to country. Fragmented regulations add costs to vehicle sales, and they inhibit the ability of automakers to offer the same products around the globe.

The US and EU are attempting to improve the situation with Free Trade Agreement negotiations that started this month in Washington, D.C., Wards Auto reports, which are expected to result in a deal that pushes the global auto industry toward a world vehicle-regulatory system, with an emphasis on safety requirements.

Thoughts of mandatory sealed-beam headlights and 100+pound impact bumpers – both of which were products of fragmented global vehicle-regulatory systems – still give us headaches decades later, so here's to hoping the FTA negotiations help unify safety regulations to some degree.

Be sure to read the article for all the details on the trade negotiations, and feel free to comment below.


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  • 59 Comments
      superchan7
      • 2 Years Ago
      Rear turn signals should be amber, no exceptions (HUGE pet peeve of mine, enormous difference in visibility). Front corner reflectors are obsolete and unnecessary, get rid of them. Side turn signal repeaters should be mandatory, another idiotic omission in the US. "Driving lights" and DRLs are redundant; make them one and the same.
      sundell131313
      • 2 Years Ago
      I hope that doesnt mean the USA will start adopting the front impact rules the EU has that have destroyed all the designs of german cars.
        Myself
        • 2 Years Ago
        @sundell131313
        Same rules apply to Japanese cars sold in the EU. And the likes of Mazda 3 and 6 are beautiful - and still sold in the EU. Don't blame the EU - blame German designers ;-)
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
        ctsmith1066
        • 2 Years Ago
        How is the EU unaccountable? They have a democratically elected parliament, and the council of ministers are appointed by democratically-elected national parliaments.
        Will
        • 2 Years Ago
        The Koch brothers and other conservative, dark-money groups spend billions to make people like you afraid of global cooperation. The only people who benefit from people's fear of organizations like the UN and global cooperation are tax dodgers. If they keep countries from cooperating, they can keep working the system to result in zero net taxes for themselves, which increases the tax burden on everyone else. People like you call others "sheople," and the irony is that you are the sheep.
      johnbravo6
      • 2 Years Ago
      Free trade doesn't require treaties. Just step aside.
      schizzle
      • 2 Years Ago
      We better not be forced to drive cars with elevated hoods. Keep that horrible design requirement in Europe! It's totally ruined the side profiles of BMW, Mercedes, & Audi. Compare them to early 2000s models and before to see the difference. And no, car hood designs shouldn't have to cater to inattentive pedestrians.
        Brian P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @schizzle
        Given that production vehicles designed for worldwide sale are designed so that the basic structure of the vehicle is capable of conforming to both US and UN-ECE standards and that the engine location and hood position are rather critical to passing the UN-ECE pedestrian safety standards ... it's likely that you're already driving a vehicle that was designed with the UN-ECE pedestrian safety standard in mind. In other words, nothing changes (aside from all the minor details that differentiate the US and UN-ECE versions of the same vehicle). In Toronto, pedestrians are around 50% of traffic fatalities, so it's worth paying some attention to what happens when they get hit ... although it would sure help if said pedestrians were not often walking around with a phone surgically attached to their ear and completely oblivious to their surroundings, but that's another matter ...
        Avinash Machado
        • 2 Years Ago
        @schizzle
        Agreed.
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @schizzle
        The safety of everyone - including pedestrians - is paramount in areas like Europe and similar parts of the world with high areas of urbanisation and consequently high levels of traffic density. Anti-impaling legislation is unlikely to change. Where the harmonisation kicks in will be over issues such as lighting, windows, seat belt mounts, engine mounts, and brakes, which require many technical changes currently, cost manufacturers obscene amounts, and ultimately achieve the same result.
        Cyrus Brooks
        • 2 Years Ago
        @schizzle
        Cosign, why should car drivers be punished because pedestrians are cavalier about their own safety?
        Mike Pulsifer
        • 2 Years Ago
        @schizzle
        It's already affected Fords. Pedestrians shouldn't have to cater to inattentive drivers.
      KC
      • 2 Years Ago
      Mandatory amber turn signals please.
      andrite36
      • 2 Years Ago
      Do you think we could finally get the Yanks to drive on the proper side of the road? It's about time.
        mycommentemail
        • 2 Years Ago
        @andrite36
        Looks like some people might have a little difficulty recognizing a joke...
        Eric
        • 2 Years Ago
        @andrite36
        Your comment is ignorant. Travel a bit around the world and you'll realize that many countries have the same system as the US and others adopted differently. There's no right or wrong, just different mentality/perspective. Remember - travel!!! You'll learn a thing or two
        aatbloke1967
        • 2 Years Ago
        @andrite36
        Almost one third of global motor vehicle production is RHD for driving on the left. While there is no driving on the wrong side of the road for anyone - unless you're pre-pubescent - what harmonising regulations will do is to free up the ridiculous stranglehold FMVSS has on the US and Canadian markets requiring regulations which filter right down to engine mount design and costs the motor industry millions. UNECE regulations are ultimately no less stringent, but less pedantic and comparatively universally adopted.
      raktmn
      • 2 Years Ago
      Even better than a single unified set of standards would be to recognize that both the EU and the US both have adult and mature sets of regulations. Instead of negotiating a third set of standards on top of current US and EU standards, just allow any cars built to either existing standard to be registered anywhere. And end the US personal import restrictions for private parties for vehicles built to EU standards going forward. So what if they are a little different? Swap the display to MPH if needed, and just let the minor differences go for private party imports. US and EU emissions and safety rules are getting so close they hardly matter.
        nsenkowski
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        I agree with you 100%. I think the best way to go would be to immediately allow the trade without tarifs of any sort and just inform the consumers on both sides of the Atlantic that they are purchasing a car certified by the EU or by the US so there is no confusion. Once that is in motion, they can take the time to create unified standards. Otherwise this will drag out forever. The negotiations are supposed to happen fast, and that means finishing up around 2017. Can you believe that is considered fast? There is a much better way to do this.
        Ulf
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        No thanks. I don't want glaring headlights or red turn signals here in Europe. Please keep them to yourselves... It was the US that killed the last effort to harmonize lighting regulations, I bet will be the case this time around as well.
          DeathKnoT
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Ulf
          They made a harmonized lighting pattern to use. Most companies don't seem to use it. Vehicles can be built to both systems after the ece regs allowed side markers and retro reflectors.
        icemilkcoffee
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        I like that. That is out of the box thinking.
        DeathKnoT
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        This is what they are actually doing. They have tried harmonization in the past and its gone no where.
        Brian P
        • 2 Years Ago
        @raktmn
        I would support this with the slight modification that the lighting standards should be UN-ECE. The US lighting standard is hopelessly outdated, and red rear turn signals are dumb.
      Sacto1654
      • 2 Years Ago
      I also wonder are these negotiations also involved in creating a single emissions standard that is a mix of EPA Tier 2 Bin 5 and Euro6. If that happens, that could result in a flood of clean turbodiesels flooding the US market.
        ctsmith1066
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sacto1654
        There's more than one hurdle to having more diesels. The states tend to tax diesel more than petrol.
        Rotation
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sacto1654
        By clean, you mean dirty. If they were clean enough for US regs, they'd already be able to be sold in the US.
          aatbloke1967
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Rotation
          Rotation, stop talking bollocks. Many US states don't even mandate any form of annual safety inspection. There's a great deal of rubbish on American roads because of the wayward attitude towards such testing that would be illegal to drive elsewhere.
        Myself
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sacto1654
        Diesel is clean only on the CO2 emission front - just. But all other stuff - Nitrous oxides, solid particles, etc - are certainly not clean. Just 4 years ago, Mazda's 2.5 liter petrol powered 6 complied with California's Partially zero-emission vehicle regs. None of the Volkswagen 'clean' diesels did - precisely becaus Cali's legislation is more sensible than merely looking at co2.
          Brian P
          • 2 Years Ago
          @Myself
          DPF-equipped diesels emit fewer particulates than gasoline engines.
        raktmn
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Sacto1654
        ^^ This!!
      ctsmith1066
      • 2 Years Ago
      I'm not sure we'll ever get a single global standard for auto regulations (or for regulations on any other industry), but standardizing regulations among the EU and North America would be a really good step in the right direction.
      • 2 Years Ago
      [blocked]
      Nick Allain
      • 2 Years Ago
      I have a lot of hope that this is a first step towards reforming our import laws as well.
        • 2 Years Ago
        @Nick Allain
        [blocked]
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