The roads of the world look set to change within the next few years, as governments seek to change the safety rules for cars with a technology that could help make the asphalt a better place for pedestrians and drivers alike.

Wired has this week reported on new regulations hitting Europe from 2014, with the European New Car Assessment Programme (NCAP) requiring some form of auto-braking technology in vehicles in order to get the coveted five-star safety rating.

Australia has its own equivalent and has talked up autonomous emergency breaking already (AEB), with the Australasian New Car Assessment Program (ANCAP) Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Clarke stating that “AEB is yet another technology that offers the potential for significant reductions in the road toll and can probably be considered the next ‘seat belt’ or ‘Electronic Stability Control’ (ESC) equivalent in terms of saving lives.”

“With the swift adoption of new technology like AEB, there is a real prospect that the road toll could be cut in half by 2020. In Europe, AEB is not restricted to higher priced models only, so we are hoping for early installation of AEB across the model range in Australia and New Zealand.”

A spokesperson for Ford in Australia actually told us that it was something that would probably be “rolled out across most [of its] cars in the coming years,” with the representative citing that the technology could already be found a sports executive package of the Ford Focus Titanium.

Called “Active City Stop,” the technology watches the road for stopped traffic, automatically hitting the brakes if sensors pick up that the vehicle ahead has unexpectedly stopped.

The technology even works for speeds up to 30km/h, scanning for obstacles and then – when a collision is expected – applying the brakes automatically, even if the driver doesn’t respond themselves.

Active City Stop arrived in cars under $40,000 this year, when Ford launched it to the Focus, making it the first time the technology could be found outside of premium vehicles.

At the time, Ford’s General Marketing Manager for Australia David Katic said “safety is a key pillar of the Ford brand and we are proud to bring this technology to Focus in a segment first.”

“Active City Stop is recognised as an advanced safety feature by Euro NCAP and we’ve worked hard to make it available for our customers,” he said.

We’re currently checking with other car brands in Australia to see if similar technologies will be rolled out to vehicles locally, but from what we’re seeing, it looks like road safety is going to get a whole lot better, whether you’re behind the wheel or crossing the road.