Autonomous Emergency Braking (AEB) systems involve adaptive cruise control working in tandem with fully automatic braking to stop you colliding into the car in front, without you touching the pedals. Although quite a number of automakers already have such systems (Mercedes, BMW, Volkswagen, Volvo, Porsche, Infiniti and Subaru to name a few), only 20% of cars sold in Europe today are so equipped. Which isn’t surprising, given that only models at the higher end receive this treatment.

But this is about to change, as the EU has recently decreed that all new commercial vehicles must be fitted with AEB by November 2013, and everything else by 2014. AEB will also be a requisite for a five-star Euro NCAP safety rating, so say the folks at Autoweek.

The systems use laser, radar or video to pick up any obstructions or pedestrians and automatically apply the brakes quickly and effectively, bringing the car to a complete stop if necessary.

According to Popular Science, a European study suggests that AEB systems can reduce accidents by as much as 25% when universally implemented.