Commission steps up road-safety efforts

A road toll in Serbia [Photo: Shutterstock]

EU draft rules will force countries to get rid of road toll systems that charge by day and instead switch to charging by how far vehicles drive. [Shutterstock]

Blind-spot mirrors are to become mandatory for all European trucks and member states will have to upgrade their highways, according to new proposals from the Commission. 

With a view to reaching its target of bringing the number of deaths on EU roads down to 25,000 per year by 2010 – compared to the current 43,000 – the Commission has presented two new proposals, which it believes could prevent the loss of around 2,000 lives every year. 

Under one of the proposals, all heavy-duty vehicles of more than 3.5 tonnes will have to be equipped with blind-spot mirrors. The draft law comes after studies show that approximately 400 road users lose their lives every year because lorry drivers fail to notice them when taking a right turn. 

The other draft directive aims to improve safety on all major roads, by defining guidelines to ensure that safety is integrated in all phases of road planning, design and operation. 

The European Transport Safety Council says that it is relieved to see that the Commission has woken up on road safety but regrets that it has only adopted guidelines, leaving the details up to member states: “Only a proposal setting stringent infrastructure safety management standards in all member states would have made an impact in countries where road safety levels are below average,” it states. 

The Commission is also consulting stakeholders, until 17 November 2006, on a proposal to introduce Daytime Running Lights for motor vehicles. The Commission’s paper estimates that DRL could help save between 1,200 and 2,000 lives per year, but motorcyclists and some drivers are against the proposal, saying DRL decreases visibility of motorcyclists, distracts drivers with excessive glare and causes an increase in fuel consumption and CO2 emissions. 

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