ADAS and driving test. Green light for installation in Spanish vehicles

The development of ADAS (Advanced Driver Assistance Systems) has experienced considerable and rapid growth in recent years.

Considering that the goal of many car manufacturers is independent driving, the gradual integration of ADAS systems into vehicles can easily be seen as a step in this direction.

What are ADAS? In short, they are systems that use various technologies (laser, LIDAR, cameras or radar, among others) to collect information in the vehicle environment in order to act in the most appropriate way to protect the driver.

The advantages of advanced driver assistance systems can be summed up in two words: safety and comfort. It is a fact that distraction is the main cause of fatal accidents, and these assistance tools seem to reduce it. In addition, their obvious benefit in terms of simplifying driving.

The procedure that led to ADAS being approved for the driving test in Spain

Although several years have passed since road vehicles were equipped with driving aids, the Spanish Directorate General of Transport (Dirección General de Tráfico) has been reluctant to approve ADAS. The main reason for this was the fear that it would be extremely easy and therefore impossible to assess driving ability correctly.

In response, organisations such as the CNAE (National Association of Driving Schools, Confederación Nacional de Autoescuelas) have expressed the need to adapt the tests to vehicles on the market. It has been argued that if learner drivers knew that they could not use ADAS during the test, they would not be interested in training in this area, which would lead to a contradiction, i.e. not using aids to make the roads safer.

On the other hand, it was pointed out that in many European countries driving aids have already been approved for practical testing for some time, especially in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, Belgium, the Netherlands and the Scandinavian countries.

At the beginning of 2018, Spain and Italy were among the countries that had not yet taken this important step.

The adoption took place in September 2019, when DGT finally accepted the use of some of these aids for the driving test, with some limitations, which we will present below.

Which driving aids are accepted for the Spanish exam?

Currently, DGT allows the use of some ADAS. Among others, there are those that will be mandatory for all vehicles belonging to the European Union from 2022.

The following systems are accepted:

  • Start-stop, which shuts off the engine when idling to save fuel, and restarts it as soon as the clutch is pressed.
  • Uphill Start Assist, which prevents the car from falling backwards on a hill when you take your foot off the brake.
  • Automatic activation of lights and wipers.
  • Emergency braking, which warns the driver if there is an imminent risk of collision or activates the brakes.
  • Cross-traffic alarm, similar to the previous one, but activated backwards from a battery-powered parking space.
  • Parking cameras and sensors, including those for reverse gear and those that provide 360-degree visibility.
  • Fatigue detection, which alerts the driver if he loses concentration at the wheel due to excessive tiredness or sleep.
  • Emergency Brake Warning, which indicates when the car in front brakes sharply.

There are still systems that are not allowed during the test:

  • Adaptive speed control.
  • Attention and correction of involuntary lane changes.
  • Automatic parking (systems that park the vehicle almost independently).

In short, the fact that ADAS systems are already integrated into driving tests is a clear indication that their integration represents the future of driving, to which the European Union and the international bodies responsible for road safety are also committed.